Bio-Olympiad ends amidst riot of colours

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Mumbai, Jul 20 (UNI) The week-long 19th International Biology Olympiad (IBO) came to a colourful close with a kaleidoscope of cultural dances and air of camaraderie among the 220 high school participants from 55 countries.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, IBO Co-ordinator Chairman Dr Hans Morelis said, ''Mumbai, its people and hospitality has made the event a big success.'' The 19th IBO has been accepted as one of the toughest Olympiads with 98 per cent of the questions being accepted by the international jury. This was one per cent better than the earlier record holder Argentina, which had 97 per cent of its questions approved. ''This was an outstanding test, but the students took up the challenge and performed beyond expectations,'' Dr Morelis said.

Ji Soo Park of Korea was adjudged the top contestant with the US, China Taipei and host India winning medals in each category. Other countries as diverse as Indonesia, Slovenia, Bulgaria Switzerland and Brazil also shared the honours.

''I am very proud of my medal, and I thank the Lord,'' Satria Chahya Pamungkas, a class XII student from Indonesia who won a bronze, said.

''I did not perform as I expected...and would love to do it all over again,'' reminisced Radoslav Aleksandov, from Bulgaria who also won a medal and plans to study molecular biology.

Silver medalist from Pakistan, Muhammed Affawn expressed his hope that events like this would also 'soften' relations between India and Pakistan. ''I have earned an honour for my country and hopefully be an inspiration for other students,'' he said.

For Slovenian Nina Turk, who won a bronze, the Olympiad was a chance to meet new people and have a good experience. ''But I missed Slovenian food in the end,'' she said.

Unlike the Olympics sports, participants do not represent their countries but fight for individual glory in theoritical and practical tests in plant science, animal sciences, biochemistry&cell biology and ethnology.

The next IBO is slated to be held in Tsukuba, Japan in 2009.

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