ANU Debating capped off a year of success at the 2014 World Universities Debating Championship (affectionately known as “Worlds”), in Chennai, India, with one team making it all the way to the quarter finals.

The  team of second year students Thomas Goldie and Yi-An “Yarn” Shih ranked eleventh in the tournament, ahead of the top teams from Oxford, Yale, Stanford, the London School of Economics and the National University of Singapore. Another ANU team (Richard Keys and Jacqui Yates) also came tantalisingly close to reaching the finals round, missing out by just one point.

Worlds is the largest debating tournament on the planet, and is held annually over late December and early January.  The 2014 championships saw approximately 1000 debaters travel to India from all across the globe to compete for the World Champion title.  ANU Debating sent two teams and six adjudicators, making the ANU among the largest contingents at the tournament.

Motions debated at Worlds require high levels of expertise and are often considered the most complex  within the international debating community. This year, the motions debated included a range of issues, including the incarceration of first-time offenders, the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on small and medium-sized countries, the US funding of moderate Madrassas (schools of Islamic study) throughout the Islamic world and the rise of hook-up culture.

After three days of preliminary rounds, the top 48 teams continued to the finals round, where ANU Debating  saw tremendous success.

The team progressed  through the “octo-finals”  winning a debate about whether Japan should shame its World War II soldiers (including those who did not commit war crimes). In the end, they were knocked out in the quarter finals, but not without enjoying themselves.

“Yarn and I had an amazing and rewarding time,” said Mr Goldie. “All the hard work and practice we put in really paid off.”

Indeed, rewards also came with the announcement of the final speaker rankings.  Mr Goldie and Mr Keys both ranked in the top 50 speakers of the tournament, while the other two ANU speakers, Mr Shih and Ms Yates, both ranked in the top 100.

Other Australian representatives also excelled, with five of the tournament’s top ten speakers (including the top four) coming from Australia.

Despite this excellent achievement, it was not an Australian university that claimed the crown prize: the tournament was ultimately won by a team from Harvard University, arguing that India should pursue aggressive economic liberalisation.

ANU Debating can be very proud of their accomplishments this year, having reached the quarter finals at Chennai, as well as semi-finals at the Australasian Championships.  The stage is set for its next challenge: the Australian Championships, to be held at Monash University in Melbourne early this year.

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