Team HK shows form in debates
Triumphant would have been the word to describe Team Hong Kong's performance at the Heart of Europe Debating Tournament 2010, after beating reigning world champions Canada in a tense semi-final.
Up to this point, the Hong Kong representatives had already broken countless records and made history for Hong Kong in international debating.
However, the true celebration could not start yet - we still had a night of preparation to go through before we faced South Africa in the Grand Final the next day.
The tournament was held in Olomouc, a town in the heart of the Czech Republic - and hence the name of the tournament, 'Heart of Europe'.
The road to the event had been long, both geographically and mentally, owing to the rigorous training the team members had to go through during the early days of summer.
Hong Kong was already stepping into unchartered waters by deciding to send not one, but two teams to Europe - HK1 and HK2.
HK1 consisted of: Captain Benjamin Allen (La Salle College)
Heather Pickerell (German Swiss International School)
Benjamin So (Queen's College)
James Lo (Diocesan Boys' school)
Justin Lo (La Salle College)
Captain Pavan Hegde (South Island School)
Griffith Cheng (La Salle College)
Tiffany Chung (South Island School)
The decision to send two teams was made to give them as much exposure to international competition as possible, and to allow the young debaters in Team 2 (14, 16 and 14 years old respectively) a chance to prove themselves.
Under the guidance of coaches Greg Forse and Roy Allen, and with the help of Raphael Leung (La Salle College), who also volunteered as a judge for Hong Kong at the tournament, the team trained intensely throughout June and July. With massive improvements and great team spirit, both teams took the tournament by storm on arrival - with HK1 winning all eight preliminaries and becoming first of the pack to get into the knockouts.
HK2 came fourth after the preliminaries after seven wins, including an epic battle and 2-1 victory over South Africa, marking their first loss to Hong Kong in the debating history of both places.
Unfortunately, HK2 lost against the top Canadian team in the first round of the knockouts in a motion about the ethics of banking bonuses by a margin of 2-3.
However, revenge was sweet in the next round when HK1 (Heather Pickerell, Benjamin So and Benjamin Allen) opposed the Canadians and emerged victorious with a 4-3 scorecard, crushing the hopes of the reigning world champions to seal victory in Olomouc, too.
Entering the final in high spirits, HK1 faced South Africa and unfortunately lost by a vote of 3-6 in what was considered by Chief Adjudicator John Wickham to be one of 'the best international finals' he had ever seen.
Despite the loss, Hong Kong picked up two of the top three speaker rankings, with Heather coming second, and James and Benjamin So sharing third place.
All Hong Kong speakers ranked in the top 20, which was another record for the city.
Apart from the debates, the team also enjoyed a friendly football game with Team Germany and Team Israel. And on the way back, they found time to explore the ancient city of Prague to wrap up what had been an incredible success for Team Hong Kong.
Detailed results can be found at the official site of the Hong Kong Schools Debating Council: hksdc.wordpress.com/2010/08/22/results-heart-of-europe-debating-tournament-2010/