Akanksha Sarda, the all-India female topper of the this year's IIT-JEE exam, has yet another laurel to add to her list — she is now the first Indian girl to win a gold medal at the International Physics Olympiad (IphO).
The announcement was made on Saturday afternoon in Zagreb, Croatia, where the 41st IphO 2010 was held from July 17 to 25.
Eighteen-year-old Sarda, part of a team of five Indian contestants at the Olympiad, was also the second Indian girl to qualify at the international level. She received her medal on Sunday afternoon.
India has been faring well at the IphO for the last couple of years, winning four golds and a silver.
This year, the national team stood sixth overall, with three silvers and a bronze in its basket.
"The Olympiad was very challenging with 400 contestants from countries all over the world. I did not expect to win," said an elated Sarda, speaking to Hindustan Times from Zagreb on Sunday. "It's an amazing feeling."
A student of coaching class IITian Pace, Sarda underwent training for the Olympiads.
"She is an exceptionally bright student. For a month before the Olympiad finals, she watched every movie and went out every day" said Praveen Tyagi, who coached her for the Olympiad.
"It worried me that she didn't spend time studying, but I was proved wrong."
Sarda, who had ironically failed her Class 9 physics exam, ended up acing the Class 10 ICSE exams two years ago. After her success at the IIT entrance exam, she is now looking forward to join MIT in August.
"She will be gone to the States soon, and I will miss her," said Sarda's mother Zarana, who was at their Santacruz home when news about the gold win arrived.
Sarda will return home late on Monday night, and for now is celebrating her success by sight seeing around Croatia.