Oh, no, not again! I exclaimed as I found the final result of the 31st International Physics Olympiad (“IPhO”) two days before the awards ceremony. Yet, immediately, I accepted the result, and found complacence, since I had promised myself that I would not be discouraged again, even if I might not get a gold medal this time. Moreover, there was another reason why I would accept the result: The examination was hardest ever in IPhO history; so only a few students won gold medals. The 18th place, in which I could have won a gold medal last year, was by no mean discouraging. Even if I won also a silver medal and higher score last year, this result shows a great improvement.
months before this incident a question, which had been always unquestionable to
other students, annoyed me: “Should I participate in the IPhO
again? If I am chosen as a representative, will I win
a gold medal? What will other people say to me if I don’t win one? That I have
deprived them of their chances to participate in the IPhO,
which guarantee their admissions to the S.N.U. and KAIST, the two most
prestigious colleges in
on this matter for a long time, I reached a conclusion: I would not care,
whether I will be chosen or not. If I am not chosen, I will not have to waste
my time making myself a physics problem-solving machine. If I am chosen, I may
get the venerable gold medal and moreover, I will have a great opportunity to
right after we returned from the 30th IPhO,
Mr.Soh, a professor at the S.N.U., explained to us
that, while there might be a slight correlation between achieving a good result
at the IPhO and having great potential to do research
well as a physicist, achieving a good result at the IPhO
doesn’t guarantee that one will become a successful physicist, because it only
shows that one is qualified to solve physics problems in a short time.
Therefore, he recommended some physics books to study further, which would
never help my achievement as an IPhOer, since the
level of the books are higher than that of the IPhO test. I understood his explanation and willingly
followed his “order”, since my brain had been
refreshed by the
Not minding whether I would be chosen or not, I did not prepare for the qualification test as hard as others. Nevertheless, I was selected, as I had accumulated many more experiences. After that, I studied physics not to win a gold medal, which would please me, but to win a gold medal, which would evade the notion of “depriver” of other students’ chances for the IPhO. This attitude influenced my amount of solving physics problems. As far as I knew, my seniors, who won gold medals at the IPhO, studied harshly, solving physics problems more than ten hours a day. Not to mention it, I could not study as harshly as they. Solving enormous amounts of physics problems bored me even if I love physics, even if I love to study books recommended by Mr. Soh.
My result at the 31st IPhO was obviously expected. I won a silver medal again. As a result, I was not deified as a God at solving physics problems. Nevertheless, I don’t feel depressed, for I know that the result will never deter my dream, inquiring about the universe, which has been my dream since I was six years old.