The four students were selected from over 6,500 UK school students who entered the first national round of the competition in January, run by the Royal Society of Chemistry. 30 of the top students from the first round competed in the second round from which the team of four students was selected. The team then had ten days of intense training in Cambridge in theoretical and practical skills (many of which are at University level) before travelling out to the competition.
Sarah Robertson, Royal Society of Chemistry director of education, said: "Many congratulations to Alexandra, John, Jonathan and Ryan on this record-breaking result. It is testament to their dedication and many months of hard work, both by them and the supporting teachers and mentors.
"I hope the success of this year’s chemistry Olympiad team can inspire more students from all over the UK. The competition highlights the importance of studying and practising chemistry, a subject that is critical in both addressing global challenges and contributing to the economic success of the UK."
The haul of three gold and one silver medal puts the UK in joint third position on the medal table of countries. China and the USA took joint first position with four gold medals each. The UK shared 3rd place with Korea and the Czech Republic who also got three golds and one silver. The result this year beats the previous UK best of two gold and two silver medals, which was achieved in 1994. The total number of gold medals won by the UK team between 1984 (when the UK started competing) and 2017 was nine. The three gold medals won this year now bring this total to 12 and comprise 25% of the gold medals ever won by the UK, highlighting the significance of this achievement.
Head Mentor of the UK delegation Dr Ben Pilgrim, from the University of Cambridge, said: "We are all thrilled with the outstanding results this year. Competition for the four places on the team was intense, which I think is a testament to the huge number of excellent school students and teachers we have in the UK. Heading into the competition, we knew we had a strong team who have all worked very hard, but a result this good was even beyond our wildest expectations.
"I would like to thank all members of the UK Chemistry Olympiad working group for their hard work in training the team and the Royal Society of Chemistry and the University of Cambridge their support, without which we would not have been able to achieve this result."