TEENAGE maths whizz Katya Richards has been searching for years for a decent maths challenge – and she’s found one in the European Girls Maths Olympiad.

The 15-year-old’s maths prowess is such that even her head of maths at Helen and St Katherine School, Clive Morris, is unable to beat her.

She has qualified for the competition after beating 1,400 others for a place on the team.

Next month the mathlete and three teammates will take on contestants from 19 other countries in Cambridge.

Katya, who is in Year 11 at St Helen and St Katherine, said: “My love of maths started when very little and was finding maths lessons very easy.

“I was trying to find difficult things and the maths olympiad has finally provided a challenge.”

She was in Year 10 and aged 14 when she took part in the first round of qualifying for the olympiad, a contest designed for sixth formers.

Katya studies maths in school for two-and-a-half hours each week but also spends at least two hours of her own time working through maths challenges in the senior maths mentoring scheme provided by UK Mathematics Trust.

As part of her training, she went to Hungary in January to work alongside budding mathematicians from the UK and Hungary.

She said: “It’s really exciting that I will be representing my country.”

A love of maths was fostered in the youngster by her grandmother, maths teacher Rachel Connor.

Katya said: “I was very small and it’s before I can remember.

“She started teaching me at a young age and realised I picked it up very quickly.”

Mr Morris said: “She’s so far ahead of her year mathematically our main challenge is creating opportunities for her to be able to work with mathematicians of a much higher level.”

Katya has also worked with an Oxford University maths teacher.

Mr Morris said: “She’s already competing against people who are a lot older than her.

“Her ability to absorb new ideas and apply what she has learned in new situations is phenomenal.

“I have never met anyone of that level before and probably never will again.”

Katya said she did not feel she was missing out on a social life when she delved into her maths problems.

She said: “When I went to Hungary, it was really fun being around so many other maths people.

“I wouldn’t exactly say we were talking about normal teenage things, but not just maths, also science, physics and computers.

“It’s something I really enjoy doing.”