Ottawa’s Alexander Cohen

Ottawa’s Alexander Cohen

Surrey teen wins silver at geography competition

Aoife O’Leary part of second-place Team Canada

Team Canada took silver at the 10th National Geographic World Championship last week thanks to the help of Surrey’s Aoife O’Leary.

O’Leary, 15, was joined by Ottawa’s Alexander Cohen, 15, and North Vancouver’s Alejandro Torres-Lopez, 16, on the national team, which was the defending champion in the biennial competition.

The July 27 event is organized by the National Geographic Society, and was held at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Teams of students from sixteen other regions competed, answering questions on physical, cultural and economic geography.

Russia took top honours for the first time, after entering a team in every championship since the competition began in 1993.

Chinese Taipei came in third.

The three top teams qualified for the final round after obtaining the highest combined scores in a written contest Sunday, July 24 and in preliminary activity July 25, which included a hands-on event at the San Francisco Zoo.

Alex Trebek, host of TV quiz show Jeopardy, moderated the finals, which were followed by an Olympics-style ceremony that saw gold, silver and bronze medals awarded.

Students were eligible to take part in the world competition by winning or being a top finisher in the national competitions of their home regions.

The other 14 teams competing this year were from Australia, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Singapore, Slovakia, the U.K. and the U.S.

Canada has taken top honours twice: once in 1997 at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., and again in 2009 in Mexico City.