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UK geography students win medals at international competition

Team UK returned home from an international geography student competition with one silver and one bronze medal.

The International Geographical Olympiad (iGeo), in association with the Regional Conference of the International Geographical Union (IGU), is an annual geography competition for Post-16 students.

From 31 July to 6 August 2018 the Université Laval in Québec welcomed 165 students from 43 teams who travelled from around the world to compete in the 15th instalment of the event.

Silver medal winner from team UK, Zachary Elliot, 17, regarded the competition as ‘one of the best weeks of my life’, adding:

‘I was absolutely honoured to have competed in the event and I’m so ecstatic to have been awarded a silver medal. A global event such as this really did open my eyes to a whole set of different cultures and traditions – and by making friendships from all over the world, enhanced my global perspective. The fieldwork and excursions were particular highlights – as they broadened our knowledge and appreciation of the cultural and physical landscapes of the local area.’

The iGeo 2018 theme was ‘Appreciating landscapes’, which related to the overall IGU 2018 conference theme of ‘Appreciating Difference’ and highlighted the role of the natural landscape in the historical evolution of Quebec.

For Mark Higginbottom, team leader for team UK: ‘The day excursion to Forêt Montmorency was an incredible experience, exploring the classic Canadian Boreal coniferous forest and learning about the geographical research being carried out. A highlight was wandering by a Canadian lake, only to come within metres of a Moose!’

The competition comprised of a written response test, a day of fieldwork and follow up task and a multimedia test.

Bronze medal winner, Bree Livesey, 17, was blown away by the scale of the event and enjoyed the social element of the international competition:

‘For me one of the highlights of the trip was going to the opening ceremony of the Olympiad. I found it incredible how in one theatre there were geographers from a staggering 43 countries and I particularly enjoyed meeting and becoming friends with students from other countries and finding out about their traditions, economy and climate.

‘Another standout moment would definitely be at the closing ceremony when I heard my name being announced and found to my delight that I had won a bronze medal! It meant a great deal to me that my hard work and commitment to geography over the years had paid off.’

Bree’s advice for students considering entering the competition is: ‘Give it your best shot and go for it. When you have the opportunity to prove you are worthy of representing the country in the subject you love take it with both hands and just do your best!

‘I would encourage applicants to read the instructions very closely, to really focus on the command words of the question and to ensure they analyse and utilise any visual materials (such as maps) as chances are they are included for a reason!’

The 2019 iGeo competition will be held in Hong Kong. Entry information is available on this page.


Additional information

Team UK, 2018:

  • Zachary Elliott – Castle Rushden High School, Isle of Man
  • Bree Livesey – The Grange School, Northwich
  • Sophie Bagot Jewitt – Haileybury and Imperial Service College, Hertford
  • James Cartledge – King’s College School, Wimbledon

Team leaders were Mark Higginbottom and John Lyon.

International Geographical Olympiad website

iGeo2018 website