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Who are the mediocre people who became insanely good at competitive programming?

Who are the mediocre people who became insanely good at competitive programming? by @ahmed_aly_tc

Answer by Ahmed Aly:

First of all, I can’t call myself someone who is insanely good at competitive programming. But here is my story:

When I was in college, I was one of the worst students you can imagine, I got 22 F’s in 48 courses I needed to pass to graduate, everyone was supposed to graduate in 4 years, but I did it in 5 years, and I had summer courses in the 5 years. So for 5 years I didn’t have any summer vacations, but you can tell based on the number of F’s I got, that I was having many vacations.

I know it happens a lot, that some students fail in many courses but are very good at programming, but this wasn’t my case. These 22 F’s I got, included courses like Programming 1, Programming 2 and Data Structures, so I was bad at everything.

After about 2.5 years in college, some of my friends were going to participate in the Egyptian ACM national contest, and for some reasons one of their team members decided that he won’t participate, and they wanted anyone just to complete the team. That someone was me, and it was the first programming contest for me, that was in 2007, I was 20 years old at this time. For sure my contribution in this contest was zero, my team solved only 1 problem and I wasn’t involved at all in solving it.

After this contest, you can’t imaging how much I loved competitive programming, and I became addicted to it. That actually changed my life completely, and I started getting many A+’s and better grades. In about 1 year, I became the ranked #1 TopCoder in all Arab countries, and my team got 3rd place in the Arab ACM regional contest, and the next 2 years my team got the 2nd place twice (then I was the chief judge for this regional, for 3 years in a row) and my team went to the ACM ICPC World Finals in 2011, and I managed to be red on TopCoder, and I reached the semi-final in Google Code Jam once, and right now I’m a software engineer at Google and the creator of A2 Online Judge.

For sure, all of that is because of my great coach, Mohamed Abdelwahab (Fegla the Great), you can read more about him in this answer: Ahmed Aly's answer to Whom do you respect the most in the world (living)? Why?

Who are the mediocre people who became insanely good at competitive programming?

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