Three students equal record Irish haul for bronze at International Chemistry Olympiad

19 Jul 2017

From left: Aaron Hannon, Alicia Huntley, Diarmuid O’Donoghue and Michael Hong. Image: Dr Cormac Quigley/Twitter

In Thailand, three young, Irish chemistry students have walked away with a bronze medal at the 49th International Chemistry Olympiad.

Students from the island of Ireland have maintained a presence at the International Chemistry Olympiad since 1997 (bar 2016), and this year was no different, with three students being named as winners of a bronze medal.

A total of four Irish secondary-school students made the trip over to Thailand for the competition, which will celebrate 50 years when it comes to Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 2018.

Among the three winners were Diarmuid O’Donoghue from Ashton School in Co Cork, Michael Hong from Methodist College Belfast and Alicia Huntley of Regent House School in Newtownards, Co Down. The final participant, who unfortunately missed out on a prize, was Mayo student Aaron Hannon from St Muredach’s College in Ballina.

This year marks the highest number of Irish award-winners for the International Chemistry Olympiad since 1999.

The competition was a truly global event, with nearly 300 students taking part over the course of more than a week, from a total of 76 countries.

20 medals over 20 years

Winning was no easy feat, as each day required students to complete a series of exams, ranging from the translation of practical and theoretical chemistry experiments, to lab work that lasted for a period of five hours.

The team was accompanied by two mentors: Dr Cormac Quigley (lecturer at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and a former chemistry olympian) and assistant professor Mercedes Vázquez from the School of Chemical Sciences at Dublin City University (DCU).

To qualify for the event, the four students had to undergo two selection rounds in DCU over the past six months. Since completing their Leaving Certificate and A levels, the team members have been participating in a full-time training schedule.

The three winners at this year’s event brings Ireland’s bronze medal tally to 20 over the past 20 years, with two silver medals also received.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic