Young Genius from Popovača Wins First Place at International Romanian Master of Informatics

Daniela Rogulj



December 12, 2020 – A young genius from Popovača, Dorijan Lendvaj, has won first place at the International Romanian Master of Informatics in competition against 200 students.

Jutarnji ListJutarnji List writes that the Lendvaj family from Popovača is anything but ordinary. The eldest brother, Vilim (21), was the state champion in robotics, logic, and informatics, an international champion at the Science Olympiads, and today is a student at FER. Dorijan, 16, entered the game at the age of two, looking over his shoulder at his older brother while working on a computer. He was seven years old when he became the youngest participant in a national programming competition in general, and in 2016 he was a world champion in robotics. Dorijan is also the only student in Europe to have won international medals in all four areas of STEM. Their sister Dora (15) was a state champion in programming in the fifth grade. The first to knock down the male competition.

“Vilim once described them in these words: ‘I am smart, Dorijan is a genius, and Dora is normal. This means that Dora was the national champion in elementary school’,” says the professor of the Zagreb MIOC, Dorijan’s mentor at the school for international competitions, Nikola Dmitrović, who knows all the Lendvaj family well. 

The latest news from MIOC (XV Gymnasium) is that students Dorijan Lendvaj and Patrik Pavić won gold medals at the International Romanian Master of Informatics, with Dorijan winning first place in the competition of 200 students. This is the first time a student from Croatia has won first place in a competition of this level, which is considered one of the Grand Slams in IT circles.

“I did not expect to win first place; there were a lot of good competitors,” Dorijan, who participated in the competition from self-isolation, under the supervision of cameras, said on the phone. Dorijan, as his mentor Dmitrović will confirm, is much more eloquent in programming languages, so it should come as no surprise that when asked how he felt when he won the gold, he replied: “Well. Hm. I didn’t feel special.”

The Lendvaj children have a basis for their love of programming in their parenting profession; they are both mathematicians.

“We really did not expect Dorijan to be the first, because about 40 of the best Russian programmers were in the competition, and that is comparable to Wimbledon in the tennis world. Along with the World Olympics, this is definitely the strongest competition. It is important to start programming early enough, from the lower grades of primary school. After that, the children climb on their own,” says father Vlado Lendvaj, president of the Croatian Association of Informatics since last year. For his children, he says he no longer knows how many medals they brought home. He estimates about fifty, of which 20 are international.

According to Vlado Lendvaj, the best preparation for strong competitions is participation in informal online competitions in which children from all over the world take part several times a week. Dorijan has progressed to the level of composing competition questions today and performing as a tester. He was recently a tester for the Russian Informatics Olympiad.

The gold won at the Romanian Master of Informatics did not surprise only Dmitrović.

“Patrik and Dorijan have alternated first place for some time and are way ahead of the others. I think they are some of our best competitors in general,” says Dmitrović.

“We work with them; we organize them, we prepare the rooms where they compete, we talk, we control, we wake them up… Since I lead competitions at the state level for primary schools, I have known Dorijan since the 4th grade, Patrik since the 6th. Dorijan is special, both as a contestant and as a person. He’s not talkative. If he doesn’t see why he should say something, he won’t say it. Like Sheldon Cooper. Incredibly smart, intelligent, but quite reserved in person. He has his own specifics that we are used to and accept. He is our Dodo. Some said the MIOC school is best for such students. They focus on the area in which they are the best, and not imposed,” Dmitrović explains.

While acknowledging that it is not easy to work with gifted children because of their high demands, getting into a discussion with them is a real challenge and worth it.

Dorijan’s father states that at various international competitions, Croatia won more gold medals in informatics than all other subjects combined.

“We have 12 gold medals in informatics. In all other cases, Serbia, for example, is better than Croatia, and only this year they won the first gold in informatics. Finland, often mentioned in the context of the best education system, has five golds in computer science. Mi 12! We have an area where we are far above the Finns. But not because of the education system, but because of the individuals in it,” concludes Vlado Lendvaj.

To read more about coronavirus in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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