Fostering the talented youth in our society has always been a passion of Mark Tronson. He was encouraged to follow his own chosen career by caring parents and in turn has been able to help his own children to realise some of their dreams.
As a youngster he played hockey; and later as an ordained minister, he co-ordinated the Sports and Leisure Ministry for placing Chaplains into professional sports (for 18 years), and was Chaplain of the Australian Cricket team for 17 years to November 2000. He has also organised and advised host Olympic cities about protocols for pastoral amenities for Olympic athletes.
Mark Tronson combines his two interests of sport and youth within his Well-Being Australia Mission since 2000 in several ways. Part of his succession plan involves mentoring of young writers for the online Christian Today press; and he organises Country Town Tours, where he introduces well-known athletes and coaches to rural youth as role models and in order to encourage them to participate at a higher level of their chosen sport.
Applauding intellectual talent as well as sporting successes
Sport is an embodiment of the ideals of youth and health, and is entertainment in its own right. Australians love to identify with their sporting heroes in international competition wearing the 'green and gold' of the wattle flowers.
But that this is not the only way our young people excel; we need all types of people, all personalities, and all skills to make our society effective. Mark Tronson likes to acknowledge all of God's gifts to the talented, whatever their field of endeavour.
Many Bible passages refer to God favouring those who use their talents to their maximum potential, for example Matthew 25 verses 14-30; Luke 19 verses 12-28; most pertinently, Matthew 5 verse 16 (ESV) says "... let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
As the London sporting Olympics are about to start, there are also four teams, each of 4-6 young Australians, undertaking gruelling science and maths exams in their own form of Olympic competitions, in other cities around the world.
Four Olympiads in the Sciences
There is Biology in Singapore, Physics in Estonia, Chemistry in Washington DC, and Mathematics in Argentina. A fifth team will compete in the International Olympiad in Informatics in September, in Italy.
In May, Deborah Smith from the Sydney Morning Herald highlighted the NSW members of the teams who were busy preparing for the International Science Olympiads.
These Olympiads are obviously not as interesting to watch as sports. Who wants to see younsters sitting a 3-4 hour exam, or concentrating hard for hours in a laboratory – even if and the general public were allowed in - which they are not.
However, these young people with intellectual acuity will have long and productive careers that can continue after their retirement; in contrast to athletes have a limited time to actually playing sport at the elite level.
Australia's successes in the International Science and Maths Olympiads
The website for Australian Science Innovations (representing Chemistry, Physics and Biology Olympiads) states: "Up to 2011, 293 Australians have competed at the Olympiads, winning 30 gold, (10%) 92 silver (31%) and 115 bronze medals, (40%) and 45 honourable mentions or certificates." (www.asi.edu.au)
Since the marking scheme involves the top ten per cent of competitors winning gold medals, with the next 40 percent winning silver or bronze, it can be seen that the Australians have been 'punching above their weight' in the total medal tally.
In 2011, the youngsters did not disappoint. The biology team gained two silver and two bronze medals in Taiwan; the chemists three silver and one bronze in Turkey and the phycisists one silver and three bronze in Thailand (www.asi.edu.au)
The six members of the International Maths Olympiad team won three silver and three bronze medals in The Netherlands. (www.amt.edu.au)
Young Australian students don't get is easy
Australian students have two disadvantages which make their successes on the international stage even more staggering.
Firstly, they are only halfway through their final year whereas those in the northern hemisphere have finished their high school studies.
Secondly, the final year in many countries is Year 13, whereas our young people finish in Year 12. They therefore have to 'catch up' 18 months' worth of high-level science knowledge in the two summer camps that they attend as part of their training.
Mark Tronson would like to wish the teams competing right now all the very best and to encourage them to go 'faster, higher, stronger' in their intellectual capacities. He also hopes that the media will report their successes in the same way they report the successes of the athletes about to start competing in the London Olympics.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html