Uvidu Praveen Sumanasekara of Badulla Central College, Badulla, Arulanantham Abhinanthan of Hindu College, Jaffna and R M S Ravindu Sanwara of Ananda College, Colombo won Bronze medals at the 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) in July 2020. The fourth member of the Sri Lankan team Shakindi Vihanga of Sujatha Vidyalaya, Matara also won an honorable mention.
This was indeed a remarkable achievement from our team as Sri Lanka participated in this competition for the first time in history. The Sri Lankan team was selected and trained by the Chemistry Olympiad Sri Lanka (COSL) committee of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon (IChemC). The IChO is a competition organised for secondary school students of all levels from all over the globe with the objective of promoting their creativity and cognitive skills in solving Chemistry related problems. While identifying and recognising the most talented youngsters in Chemistry, the IChO helps to facilitate cordial relations between the youth of different nationalities and encourage networking.
IChO is one out of the 12 International Science Olympiads held in the world. The rest represent other disciplines, such as Mathematics, Physics, Biology, etc. The IChO headquarters is based in Bratislava, Slovakia of the former Eastern Bloc. The IChO event began in 1968 with participation from Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary. Subsequently, other countries joined the programme and currently, there are more than 80 participating countries including the USA, UK, China, Russia, India, etc. In 2016, the IChO steering committee officially accepted the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon (IChemC) as the official organiser to conduct the National Chemistry Olympiad competition in Sri Lanka.
Since then IChemC is organising the local Chemistry Olympiad annually and named it as Chemistry Olympiad Sri Lanka (COSL). Sri Lanka participated as observers in IChO in the Czech Republic and France and respectively in 2018 and 2019 and was illegible to participate as a team to take part in the competition in Turkey in 2020. Unfortunately, due to the Covid 19 pandemic situation in the world competition was remotely held under a virtual platform. After screening and intense training, the steering committee of COSL selected four highly talented students to represent the Sri Lankan team. The IChemC recently organised a charm ceremony to award the medals and certificates received from the International Organisers.
The event was held at the IChemC headquarters on February 18, 2021, and the Chief Guest was Prof Janitha Liyanage who is the current Vice-Chairperson of the University Grants Commission. Dean of the College of Chemical Sciences Prof Sujatha Hewage has also participated. Due to the pandemic situation number of participants was? restricted however the event was live-streamed on Youtube. Prof Sagarika Ekanayaka who is the current President of the Institute welcomed the gathering and said she was very proud of the young prodigies who produced exceptional results as the first-time participants of the IChO. Dr. Chinthaka Ratnaweera who is the Chairman of the COSL committee presented a brief introduction to the Chemistry Olympiad competition and explained the opportunities and challenges.
Next, Prof Janitha Liyanage addressed the gathering and congratulated the team for the outstanding performance. She also thanked the IChemC for providing all the support for this program and committee members for voluntarily organising these events and training students. Medals and certificates were awarded by Prof Janitha Liyanage. After the presentation of awards, each of the winners addressed the audience and all of them expressed their sincere gratitude to the mentors who trained them with immense dedication.
Praveen, during his talk, invited youngsters to take part in future Chemistry Olympiads as they can develop their logical and critical thinking skills which will definitely help their future academic career. Abhinanthan was very happy and emotional about his achievements and specially mentioned that the Chemistry practical sessions have been a valuable experience for him. Ravidu said even though he felt there was a big gap between the A/L chemistry content and the International Chemistry Olympiad syllabus due to the training he received and with the hard work he was able to make this achievement.
Shakindi told she has realised the beauty of Chemistry after experiencing this chemistry Olympiad training workshops and got to know a lot of new friends. Before the end of the event, new Chemistry Olympiad website was launched by the IChemC past president Dr. Poshitha Premarathne who has given visionary leadership to establish the COSL. Dr. Ireshika De Silva, Secretary of the committee delivered the vote of thanks to ending this ceremony. Anyone who is interested to learn more about the programme can visit this new website through the URL http://www.web.ichemc.edu.lk/cosl/.
Also, application forms and deadlines for the future selection examinations will be updated on this website and students can obtain the Chemistry Olympiad's past papers and educational resources through it. The 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad will be held in Japan during this year. The COSL committee is eagerly waiting to select a team and train them and expect even better performance from them to bring honour to our motherland.
Dr. Chinthaka Nadun Ratnaweera
Chairman Chemistry Olympiad Sri Lanka