Issue Date: July 28, 2008
Teams from China and the Russian Federation each took home four gold medals from the 40th International Chemistry Olympiad, which was held in Budapest, Hungary, on July 12-21. China team member Yongping Fu earned the top individual score.
More than 200 high school students from 66 countries participated in this year's competition. Olympiad organizers awarded a total of 30 gold medals, 53 silver medals, and 79 bronze medals. Students were ranked and awarded medals according to their scores on theoretical and practical exams.
Other notable results came from the team from Ukraine, which earned three gold medals and a silver; the team from South Korea, which earned three gold medals and a bronze; and the team from host country Hungary, which finished strong with one gold and three silver medals. The U.S. team earned one silver and three bronze medals. Jonathan D. Lee of Northridge, Calif., won the silver medal. Andrew Liu of Chesterfield, Mo.; Yuxin Xie of East Brunswick, N.J.; and Jenny Lu of Southbury, Conn., each won a bronze medal.
"I'm very excited that we got four medals," says Kara Pezzi, head mentor of the U.S. team and a teacher at Appleton East High School in Wisconsin. "They have worked so much and so hard. I'm truly impressed by their achievement."
As winners stepped up to receive their medals, many wrapped themselves in their country's flag. Proud mentors clambered to get a photo.
Members of the Indonesian team couldn't contain their excitement after winning their first gold medal since the country began participating in the Olympiad in 1997. The gold went to Kelvin Anggara; his teammates Vincensius J. Suhardi and Ariana D. Candra won silver and bronze, respectively.
"I thought I was dreaming," said Riwandi Sihombing, head mentor for the Indonesian team and an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Indonesia, of his reaction to hearing Anggara's name being called for the gold. "I didn't expect it."
He said that he immediately called Indonesia's Department of Education to share the good news. It didn't matter that it was midnight in Jakarta.
The team from Mongolia also made history this year, earning a bronze medal for their country for the first time since Mongolia began participating three years ago. Daichaa Dorj, head mentor and a professor of chemistry at the National University of Mongolia, noted that the Mongolian team received an honorable mention last year and worked very hard this year to get the bronze.
Dorj said he hopes that their accomplishment will boost support for chemistry education in Mongolia and motivate other students to excel in chemistry. Urandelger Tuvshindorj, who won the bronze medal, beamed with pride despite being unable to fully express her joy in English. "I am happy," she said.
As much joy as there was, there was also disappointment. The team from India received three silver medals and a bronze medal. "We could have done much better," says Arvind Anant Natu, a mentor and professor of chemical biology at the Indian Institute of Science Education & Research. "We expected to get at least two golds this year." Last year, the team received one gold, two silvers, and a bronze.
Nevertheless, Natu acknowledged that winning a medal is just part of the experience. "The building of human relationships is the most important thing that goes with the medals," he says.
The 41st International Chemistry Olympiad will be held in Cambridge, England, on July 18–27, 2009.
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