The International Chemistry Olympiad is an annual competition for the world’s most talented chemistry students at secondary school level. This year 235 students took part from 60 different countries, solving challenging problems in a five-hour theory paper.
The UK students were Alex Thow (Royal Grammar School in Guildford), Rtvik Patel (Winchester College), Worawit Tangamornchaipattana (Boll) (The National Mathematics and Science College) and Agustin Lorusso Notaro Francesco (Abbey College Cambridge). Rtvik, Alex and Worawith all received silver medals, while Agustin received gold.
The four students were selected from over 9,000 UK school students who entered the national UK Chemistry Olympiad 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. Training usually takes place at residential events in Coventry and Cambridge, and the finals were scheduled to take place in Istanbul, Turkey, but this year it was all moved online due to COVID-19.
Sarah Robertson, Royal Society of Chemistry Director of Education, said: "Many congratulations to Alex, Rtvik, Worawit and Agustin on these great results. It shows real character and commitment to engage and achieve this while studying from their homes during these uncertain times. And credit is also due to their supporting teachers, mentors and invigilators for adapting so readily to online teaching and all the extra hours' work this has required.
"I hope that this year’s International Olympiad team can inspire more students from all over the UK to study and practise chemistry, and to go on to rewarding careers that really make a difference to the world – from tackling pollution and climate change to developing new medicines. Thousands of students from a wide range of schools and backgrounds participated in this year’s UK Chemistry Olympiad, and we encourage everyone to take part next year."
Head Mentor of the UK delegation Dr Ben Pilgrim, from the University of Nottingham, said: "We are delighted with another outstanding performance by the UK Team. Gold medals are awarded to the top 10% of students competing and silver medals to the next 20%. With only 60 countries participating this year (compared to the usual 80) there were far fewer gold and silver medals available. So for the UK to win one gold and three silvers (one of its best ever results) is remarkable. Congratulations to Agustin, Boll, Alex and Rtvik.
"As we were preparing for our Round 2 selection weekend to pick the UK Team for the 2020 International Chemistry Olympiad, the UK was entering lockdown due to the coronavirus. Whilst there was uncertainty over whether the International Final would take place at this point, we wanted to run Round 2 to give these excellent students the recognition they deserved and so we organised the first ever virtual Round 2 Theory for 26 students. Enormous credit should go to Agustin, Alex, Boll and Rtvik for their hard work, not only in making the team, but for the 37 online training sessions that followed. We would like to thank the Turkish organisers for their efforts in running the first ever remote International Chemistry Olympiad in such challenging times."
How did the UK participants find it?