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The annual “maths World Cup” for secondary school-age students, held this year in Thailand, which ended on Wednesday with the US as winners. The threshold score for gold medals – which changes yearly depending on how well contestants perform – was set at 26 out of 42 points, the lowest ever. Snatching five gold medals, the US beat the usual winners, China.

Michael Kural, 17, from Connecticut in the US, said he had spent June at a camp with his five team members aged 16 to 18. “It was a definitely a lot harder than we’ve been used to,” the teenager said of the contest, as his teammates played on their phones and discussed the event over steamed rice and spicy pork curry. “I think a lot of teams weren’t really used to that.”

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