Astrophysics Olympiad: State shines with 2 gold, 1 silver
Maharashtra emerged the biggest contributor to the country's success in the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA), with students from the state bagging two of the three golds won. A silver was added to the medal tally by another student from the state. The other gold and a bronze was won by students from Gujarat and Karnataka. The three golds, one silver and a bronze, however, could not help India retain first position in the medal tally.
Alankar Kotwal (Thane) and Sandesh Kalantre (Amravati) won gold for India in IOAA 2012 while Manmohan Mandhana (Washim) secured a silver. Sharad Mirani of Ahmedabad won the third gold while Pavan Hebbar from Kaiga, Karnataka, won a bronze. The results were announced by the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), which trains the students for the olympiad, on Wednesday.
"My aim was to win gold for my country and I am happy I achieved it despite tough competition. There is always much to discover in astronomy and astrophysics and the subject is intriguing," said Alankar Kotwal, who also shared a special prize for best performance in data analysis. He is a student of IIT, Bombay.
"His interest in the subject was sparked since he was in Class VI and he has won many awards. Last year, he represented India at the International Earth Science Olympiad (IESO) and won a bronze. Children do well when they are passionate about a subject. Parents have to be supportive," said S V Kotwal, Alankar's father, a doctor at Thane Municipal Corporation.Students from Maharashtra have been performing well at the olympiad. Active astronomy clubs in Maharashtra, say academicians, is the reason behind its popularity among students in the state. "Maharashtra has many local hobby astronomers' clubs, which propagate astronomy. Consequently, students develop interest in this 'non-curriculum' subject at an early age. Students from Maharashtra are thus more aware about the subject and perhaps more prepared," said Aniket Sule from HBCSE who led the Indian team.
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