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City Girl Gets Gold in World Math Olympiad

Published: July 27, 2004 (Issue # 989)



  • Nadezhda Petukhova: world-class.
    Photo: Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times

St. Petersburg schoolgirl Nadezhda Petukhova, 17, was not just the first girl in the Russian team to compete in this year's International Math Olympiad since 1998, she also won a gold medal.

Petukhova has just returned from the Olympiad, which was held in Athens on July 9 to 18.

She received her gold medal from Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, who told her: "I'm so glad that you're a girl."

The overwhelmingly majority of the contestants - 84 countries entered teams of six - were male. Only four students succeeded in answering all 42 questions correctly.

Petukhova answered most of her questions correctly, and finished in the top 20 rankings for individuals. In the national contest, Russia came third, after China and the United States.

Petukhova also brought a living prize home from Athens, a cat she calls Pit that she found in the city.

Her road to the gold medal was not an easy one. Her schoolteachers didn't understand why she was concentrating on math, even though the school she studied at was associated with the Academy of Sciences and specializes in physics and technology.

Her classmate Sasha Safronova said the school had made life difficult for Petukhova.

"They made her retake all the tests when she returned from All-Russian Olympiad. Petukhova graduated from school with threes in some subjects," she said. "Nadya's victory was no surprise for us. In our class we had seven pupils who won All-Russian Olympiads. We are just sorry that she rarely was at school".

Petukhova is no stranger to mathematics: her parents and elder brother are mathematicians.

"Nobody asked me if I liked it or not," she said. "My parents just submerged me in math."

In some ways her preparation for Athens began when Petukhova was in the fifth grade. She entered district, city, and two national mathematical Olympiads and earned a place in the IMO team.

At the age of 11 she was part of a special class at the city's school No. 239 that coaches children for math competitions. When she started there were three study groups each of them had 30 pupils. In the end only 10 students graduated from it.

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Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


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Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


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