The truth however is that had Maryam Mirzakhani stayed in Iran, like many other Iranians, not only she would not have had the opportunity to excel in what she is good at, but she would have been treated as a second class citizen for being a woman. Her success is partly due to her decision to leave Iran and the opportunities that living in a free country has brought her way. Many of Iran's elite brainiacs decide to leave Iran, in what has become known as Iran's brain drain.
Thirty four years ago, the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, made a prologue to Iran's so-called "Cultural Revolution" catastrophe, by saying:
"They keep talking about a brain drain, to hell with them leaving. Let these educated people who constantly talk of science and Western civilisation leave, These hypocrites say there is a brain drain. Let them go. We don't need this kind of Western science and civilisation"
Maryam Mirzakhani was fortunate to be able to leave Iran, she was also lucky to survive a bus crash that killed seven of Iran's elite mathematics pupils in February 1997.
Maryam Mirzakhani is seen in this photograph below, taken two years before the fatal crash, with other Iranian elite brainiac pupils. She is the third from the right in the front row.
And below is a brief tragic tale of what has happened to some of the other Iranian elite pupils and geniuses who were unfortunate not to be able to leave Iran:
Foad Sojoodi Farimani - a PhD student at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran. He registered two inventions, both related to robotic surgery, was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to eight years in prison, for insulting Islam, "acting against national security" and insulting Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei
Mitra Aali - Bio-Material graduate from Sharif university, who had come 7th in the national university entrance exams, was arrested in 2009.
Omid Kokbai - won the physics olympiad in Iran, arrested as he was about to leave Iran, now serving a 10 year sentence.
Ali Akbar Mohamadzadeh - Also a Sharif university graduate sentenced to 6 years in 2009
Amin Niayifar - Also one of the elite pupils who graduated from Tehran Technical university in Mechanical Engineering, was flogged for insulting Iran's officials.
Arman Rezakhani - winner of the national Mathematics olympiad, also arrested in 2009. Now studying computer engineering in Texas university.
Soroush Sabet, winner of a bronze medal in the Computing Olympiad and a silver medal in the Mathematics Olympiad, was sentenced to two years prison in 2009.