If he were an athlete, Andrew Elvey Price would be basking in media glory, praised for his ability and heralded long ago as a poster boy. Yet, though he is going for gold and representing his nation, he remains largely anonymous outside of a small circle.
Andrew, 17, is a maths whiz and a name to watch. The year 12 Brunswick Secondary College student is part of the six-member Australian team heading to the International Mathematics Olympiad in Germany next month.
This is the same competition in which Australia's brightest mathematician Terry Tao - regarded as the Michael Phelps of the mathematical Olympiad - won his first medal at the age of 11.
Professor Tao is the only Australian to receive the world's most prestigious mathematics prize, the Fields Medal, which is known as the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
The two-day event, part of the UNESCO-sanctioned International Science Olympiads, will see up to 600 of the world's most elite junior maths brains compete against each other in solving difficult maths problems.
"Maths has a lot of different levels of difficulty, so most maths I find pretty easy, but the Olympiad maths can get very difficult," Andrew says. "It's very different from uni maths because it only uses theories that are used in high school, but you have to do a lot of work with them. It could take up to three or four pages to write a solution and there's no set way of doing things like there is at school and at university."
The students sit 4-hour exams each day to solve three problems in the areas of geometry, algebra, number theory and combinatorics over two days.
Each country sends six of its brightest secondary school students. The best problem solvers are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals.
This will be the second time that Andrew has competed and he is hoping to bring home gold.
"Combinatorics is my favourite. It's the one I am best at, but I find it most interesting," he says.
Last year, he took home a silver medal - falling just two points short of gold - and was the team's highest scorer. He was the only Victorian in the Australian team, which won five silver medals and one bronze to secure 19th place out of 97 countries.
Andrew says the performance was made even sweeter because the Australians had earlier defeated the UK to take home the inaugural Mathematics Ashes. A rematch for the Ashes will be held at Cambridge University, where the Australian and British teams will train for a week.
Maths has a daunting reputation for many students who can't see its relevance to their lives and find it a boring jumble of equations. Experts say fewer students are doing higher-level maths because they don't recognise its importance. As a result, the subject is struggling in schools and universities.
But Andrew has always been fascinated with maths. At five, an age when counting is usually limited to the number of fingers on small hands, he was already on his way to becoming a supreme problem solver. By seven, he could grasp advanced mathematical concepts. One of his earliest memories is walking to school with his mother, a former maths teacher, and solving some of mathematics' most intractable puzzles.
"I have been interested in maths for as long as I can remember," he says. "In grade 1, my mum taught me how to differentiate polynomials and I could draw graphs. I can remember my mum walking to primary school and she would ask me to solve linear simultaneous equations and quadratics."
While his flair for the subject is obvious, Andrew says he found the primary mathematics syllabus tedious and it wasn't until year 8 that his interest peaked.
"It wasn't until I actually saw some interesting maths that I became more interested. It was maths you actually had to think about rather than just plugging in equations. I find problem solving a lot more interesting than just putting numbers into equations."
Now, he can easily solve university-level problems. He finds maths fun but takes his work seriously and hopes it will help others.
"I'll probably do maths at Melbourne University; I'm not sure what career but something to do with maths," he says.
Recently, he obtained a perfect score in the 2009 Australian Mathematics Olympiad and first place in the 2009 Asian Pacific Mathematics Olympiad.
But there is more to life than maths. Until recently, he played electric guitar in a punk rock band, and still plays electric bass and double bass at school. He also plays chess, table tennis and tennis.
The other members of the Australian team are Aaron Chong from Doncaster Secondary College, Alfred Liang from Trinity Grammar, Dana Ma from Melbourne Girls Grammar and Sampson Wong and Stacey Law from James Ruse Agricultural High School in NSW.