Not all the Olympic news in 2008 came from Beijing. In July, four of New Zealand's brightest biology students competed in the Biology Olympiad in Mumbai, India, winning one individual silver and three individual bronzes. The team, pictured below, was chosen through a rigourous selection process over a course of seven months that began last July.
In order to expand their biology knowledge from the high school level to the equivalent of second-year University, Olympians attended a ten day biology camp, took advantage of local teachers and mentors, spent countless hours on individual study and, like all serious Olympians, put their social life on hold.
For Palmerston North's Jess Shailer, it was the first time she had travelled further away than Australia and the work and sacrifices were worthwhile. While Shailer is thrilled with her bronze medal, she found the cultural exchange the most amazing part of the trip. "It was amazing to meet all the different people from the different cultures," she says. "Being in the dining room and hearing all those different languages and accents was just so cool".
On the way to Mumbai, Shailer, along with her team mates Ben Paterson, Chloe English and Amanda Deacon and their coaches, Dr Angela Sharples, a biology teacher from Rotorua Girls High and Dr Steve Chalmers, a lecturer at Unitec, spent four days in Singapore brushing up on biology and enhancing their knowledge.
In Mumbai, a total of 220 students from 55 countries participated in formal opening ceremonies, cultural exchanges and then got down to business, faced with five hours of written theory examinations on one day and four hours practical examinations on another. In total, 23 gold, 47 silver and 68 bronze medals were awarded.
Results for the 2008 competition can be found here.