COMMENTARY–Bring on the geek Olympics.

Feeling energised by the gold Australia is winning in Athens this year? You might want to leave those Speedos in your drawer because there are a few coding competitions out there that could not only win you fame but possibly help when finding your next job.

Being one of many around Australia who have strangely drawn into watching the Olympics every night for the past week I couldn’t help think–if ping pong, badminton and the 20km walk are eligible sports, why isn’t coding?

After racking my brain for a while I couldn’t think of a valid reason why it shouldn’t be. Elite coders would require the physical skill of writing code fast– keeping their composure under pressure with the endurance of sturdy fingers to get them over the line. Unfortunately the strict doping relegations by the IOC could well see substance abuse of Caffeine bring the sport into disrepute.

While the thought of coding being included as an exhibition sport at the next Olympics in Beijing may well be just a pipe dream, there are a few good Web sites that organise coding competitions for developers around the world already.

Probably the most famous of these is called TopCoder. The company runs quite a few different coding competitions throughout the year that are both online and offline. They also offer competitions for various programming languages.

Australians have performed quite well in the past two years with John Dethridge winning the TopCoder invitational in 2002(and is currently in bronze position on the Web site) and Rob Nielsen was crowned the development champion in 2003.

While winning such a competition would certainly help getting your next job, if you are good enough it could well be a job in itself with prize money of up to US$100,000 for competitions.

What do you think of a coding competition such as one from TopCoder being included in the Olympics? Is it time to start passing large sums of cash to a few IOC members to make it an Olympic sport?

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