Saudis win three medals at international physics Olympiad

A Saudi team won three medals at an international physics Olympiad on Sunday.

Sadiq Al-Abbad from Riyadh won a silver medal, Jawad Al-Saif from the Eastern Province won a bronze medal, and Lama Al-Ahdal from Jeddah earned a bronze at the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad held at Estonia’s Tallinn University of Technology.

“This achievement is an extension of the series of scientific achievements in international competitions in which the Kingdom participates, the fruit of holistic efforts, and the complementary relationship between the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba), the Ministry of Education, and their strategic partners,” said Mawhiba secretary-general Dr. Saud Al-Mathami.

He said the medals were a result of the concerted efforts between Mawhiba, the ministry, and their partners to score achievements, the spirit of competition among the Olympiad’s participating countries, and a desire to fulfill the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The Olympiad was launched in 1992 with the participation of Estonia and Finland and was called the Estonia and Finland Physics Olympiad.

With Latvia joining in 2014 and Sweden joining in 2016, the name of the competition changed to the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad.

Each main country participates with 20 competitors, while each guest country participates with a specified number.

This year’s Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad had four main and four guest countries participating.

Mawhiba, in cooperation with the Education Ministry, oversees the Mawhiba International Olympiad program.

This Olympiad program has six disciplines: Mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, informatics, and science.

It was through these events that students were selected for international competitions to represent Saudi Arabia, said the manager of Mawhiba’s competition department Badr Al-Majrathi.

He said the selected Saudi students underwent at least three years of training before international representation, receiving about 3,000 hours of training.

“Some students’ (training) last longer periods that may reach a total of six years, in physics in particular,” he told Arab News.

These activities were held in partnership with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, and Princess Noura University for female students. Some external camps are held for practical training, especially for physics.

There was a training camp in Estonia, ahead of this year’s Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad, and one is taking place in Hungary this June.

The head of the Saudi delegation to the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad, Talal Al-Rashidi, said the physics team had won three gold and silver medals in the GCC Olympiad that was held in March.

The team was participating in the European Physics Olympiad in May with five students and the Asian Physics Olympiad immediately afterwards.

But he added that this second competition would be remote due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on some East Asian countries.

This participation was a crucial way of highlighting student capabilities in international forums and Mawhiba sought to prepare students for international competitions through the Human Capacity Development Program as these were an important soft power, Al-Rashidi said.

“Since 2010, we have achieved 472 medals in many international competitions in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, informatics, and sciences. Saudi Arabia is the first in the Arab world and the first third globally in various scientific disciplines.”