A Pietermaritzburg pupil has beaten off 900 contestants in her age group to be named the first runner-up in the Junior Accounting Olympiad. Zekhethelo Gwamanda (14), a Grade nine pupil at Siqongweni Secondary in Imbail, received the trophy at an awards ceremony in Durban on Thursday. The Olympiad, which pupils wrote at their schools in August, was written by 901 pupils from 69 schools nationally. It is set by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica). Zekhethelo told The Witness after the awards ceremony that she was delighted with her performance. “I found it easy, though there were challenging multiple choice questions. You need to be very careful as some answers look similar.”She said she went through previous Saica exam papers to prepare for the Olympiad. In total, 12 pupils from the school took the Olympiad. “In grade nine we do Economics and Management Sciences, which includes certain topics of accounting. My teacher, Fiki Magagula, taught and drilled us [for the Olympiad]. We had afternoon classes and sometimes we had to sacrifice our breaks. Sometimes [Magagula] would give us tests. Then, at home, I made sure that I revised.” Zekhethelo said her performance in the Olympiad has made her want to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and eventually become a chartered accountant. “I realised I have skills in commerce.“I have researched about what being a CA is, and found that it is a career that offers great prospects and excellent financial rewards. Also, CAs are in high demand in South Africa,” she said.She said she discovered a love for working with figures. She said Saica had told the top performers that they would make bursary opportunities and work experience available should they perform well in Matric and pursue BComm qualifications.