The West

Meet WA s triumphant twins

Twins with a passion for maths, music and instant noodles have won two of the State's most prestigious academic awards.

Katerina Chua, from St Hilda's Anglican School for Girls, won the Beazley Medal for being the top student in WA. Her brother, Christ Church Grammar School student Alexander, was close behind in fifth place.

While it is the second time twins have won general exhibitions, their achievement marks the first time twins have attained a so-called "perfect" Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of 99.95.

The 17-year-olds studied the same subjects - mathematics 3C/D, specialist mathematics, physics, chemistry, literature and music.

As well as achieving the best all-round results on last year's WA Certificate of Education exams, Katerina also won a general exhibition, a course exhibition and four certificates of distinction. Alexander won a general exhibition, a course exhibition and three certificates of distinction.

Dedicated West Coast fan Katerina said even though she thought she might be in with a chance of getting 99.95, she had not expected to top the State.

They checked their results at the same time but she found out hers first because Alexander's computer froze.

She was relieved they had achieved the same ATAR and did not mind sharing the limelight.

"Once I got it I was hoping that he did, too," Katerina said. "It's no fun if you don't both do well."

The unassuming teens said they were not overly competitive because they attended different schools. "But it's kind of like an achievement if you do better than the other person in something you're normally worse at," Katerina said.

Alexander said the fact their desks were in the same room meant they could fire questions at each other if they needed help with a problem. "He often helped me with maths," Katerina said.

She said though it was difficult to pick a favourite subject, she enjoyed chemistry the most because her teacher made it fun.

As for her least favourite, she said she did not much like sport.

Their parents, paediatrician Hock Leng Chua and GP Wendy Khoo, said they were extremely proud of their children, who had shown signs of being academically gifted at an early age.

"Katerina started reading at three years old," Dr Khoo said. "And Alexander was always interested in maths and music."

While their parents are from Malaysia, the twins were born at St John of God Hospital, Subiaco.

The twins attended Applecross Primary School until Year 4. Alexander won a music scholarship at Christ Church and Katerina an academic scholarship to St Hilda's from Year 8.

Katerina said she spent about three or four hours doing school work each evening.

Though they had Facebook accounts, they never used them. And neither would dream of boasting about their achievements.

"I think it's cruel because not everyone gets to be happy at this time of year," Katerina said.

Alexander's favourite subjects were maths and music. He won a bronze medal in the international maths Olympiad and relaxed by playing Chopin on the piano.

Both the teens are talented musicians who have achieved at a level higher than that attained by many students at university.

Alexander has his Licentiate diploma in Music, the highest award of the Australian Music Examinations Board, and Katerina the Associate diploma, which is one level below.

Katerina joked she was a lazy music student and it would be a good day if she got in half an hour of practice.

Her other favourite pastime is searching eBay to buy stuffed toys or porcelain dogs.

Given that their parents and several other close relatives are doctors, it is not surprising the twins plan to study medicine.

Asked for tips on how to perform as well as she had, Katerina's advice was simple: "Eat instant noodles."

But she restricted herself to eating them only two days a week.

"It was something to look forward to - if you had a bad day you just think of the instant noodles," she said.

The West Australian

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