International Mathematical Olympiad Timeline

The logo of the International Mathematical Olympiad.

International Mathematical Olympiad Timeline

Source: Wikipedia

Notable Achievements

The following nations have achieved the highest team score in the respective competition:

  • China, 20 times (from the first participation in 1985 until 2014): in every year from 1989 to 2014 except 1991, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2012, as well as in 2019 (joint with USA);
  • Soviet Union, 14 times: in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991;
  • United States, 8 times: in 1977, 1981, 1986, 1994, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 (joint with China);
  • Hungary, 6 times: in 1961, 1962, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1975;
  • Romania, 5 times: in 1959, 1978, 1985, 1987, 1996;
  • West Germany, twice: in 1982 and 1983;
  • Russia, twice: in 1999 and 2007;
  • South Korea, twice: in 2012 and 2017;
  • Bulgaria, once: in 2003;
  • Iran, once: in 1998;
  • East Germany, once: in 1968.

The following nations have achieved an all-members-gold IMO with a full team:

  • China, 12 times: in 1992, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2019.
  • United States, 4 times: in 1994, 2011, 2016, and 2019.
  • South Korea, 3 times: in 2012, 2017, and 2019.
  • Russia, 2 times: in 2002 and 2008.
  • Bulgaria, once: in 2003.

Also noteworthy is that the United States was a single point away from achieving all gold medals in 2012, 2014, and 2015 and was just two points away in 2018, in each of these years obtaining 5 gold medals and 1 silver medal.

The only countries to have their entire team score perfectly in the IMO were the United States in 1994 (they were coached by Paul Zeitz); and Luxembourg, whose 1-member team had a perfect score in 1981. The US’s success earned a mention in TIME Magazine. Hungary won IMO 1975 in an unorthodox way when none of the eight team members received a gold medal (five silver, three bronze). Second place team East Germany also did not have a single gold medal winner (four silver, four bronze).

Several individuals have consistently scored highly and/or earned medals on the IMO: As of July 2015 Zhuo Qun Song (Canada) is the most successful participant[64] with five gold medals (including one perfect score in 2015) and one bronze medal. Reid Barton (United States) was the first participant to win a gold medal four times (1998-2001). Barton is also one of only eight four-time Putnam Fellows (2001–04). Christian Reiher (Germany), Lisa Sauermann (Germany), Teodor von Burg (Serbia), and Nipun Pitimanaaree (Thailand) are the only other participants to have won four gold medals (2000–03, 2008–11, 2009–12, 2010–13, and 2011–14 respectively); Reiher also received a bronze medal (1999), Sauermann a silver medal (2007), von Burg a silver medal (2008) and a bronze medal (2007), and Pitimanaaree a silver medal (2009). Wolfgang Burmeister (East Germany), Martin Härterich (West Germany), Iurie Boreico (Moldova), and Lim Jeck (Singapore) are the only other participants besides Reiher, Sauermann, von Burg, and Pitimanaaree to win five medals with at least three of them gold. Ciprian Manolescu (Romania) managed to write a perfect paper (42 points) for gold medal more times than anybody else in the history of the competition, doing it all three times he participated in the IMO (1995, 1996, 1997). Manolescu is also a three-time Putnam Fellow (1997, 1998, 2000). Eugenia Malinnikova (Soviet Union) is the highest-scoring female contestant in IMO history. She has 3 gold medals in IMO 1989 (41 points), IMO 1990 (42) and IMO 1991 (42), missing only 1 point in 1989 to precede Manolescu’s achievement.

Terence Tao (Australia) participated in IMO 1986, 1987 and 1988, winning bronze, silver and gold medals respectively. He won a gold medal when he just turned thirteen in IMO 1988, becoming the youngest person at that time to receive a gold medal (Zhuo Qun Song of Canada also won a gold meal at age 13, in 2011, though he was older than Tao). Tao also holds the distinction of being the youngest medalist with his 1986 bronze medal, followed by 2009 bronze medalist Raúl Chávez Sarmiento (Peru), at the age of 10 and 11 respectively. Representing the United States, Noam Elkies won a gold medal with a perfect paper at the age of 14 in 1981. Note that both Elkies and Tao could have participated in the IMO multiple times following their success, but entered university and therefore became ineligible.

The current ten countries with the best all-time results are as follows:

Source: imo-official dot org | IMO Official

Gender of some contestants is not known. Please send relevant information to the webmaster: webmaster @ imo-official dot org

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