By Alex Canepa
Two teams representing the Trinity College Historical Society reached the Octo-Finals at this December’s World Universities Debating Championships in Botswana; only the fifth and sixth Trinity Teams to have done so in the tournament’ history.
There were over 300 teams competing in the world championships in Botswana. Of these, two were from Trinity College. The first team, Hist A, comprised of Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin and Catherine Murphy.
They finished 5th overall with Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin garnering a ranking of 8th best overall debater. The Hist B team comprised of Anthony McDonnell and Kate Oliver. Hist B gained 32nd place overall.
Commenting on the debate, Hist B member Kate Oliver commented, “I am so happy, both teams made very strong showings.”
Both Oliver and Ní Mhaoileoin attributed the Hist teams’ strong showings to exhaustive training prior to the competition.
Laughing, Ní Mhaoileoin recalls, “It was exhausting. In the months leading up to World Debating Tournament, we researched a lot of Social Policy and International Relations topics. We also had to familiarize ourselves with current events because you never know what subjects are going to come up.”
Oliver and Ní Mhaoileoin also stressed the role that the tutalage of experienced debater and former Phil president Ruth Faller played in the success of both teams.
“Ruth Faller is amazing. She worked with us last term and added structure and experience to our preparations that had been lacking in previous years,” said Oliver.
Recent successes, including this winter’s World Championships, have served to cement Trinity’s (and Ireland’s) place among the top of the world debating circuit.
“Along with Australia and England, Ireland is considered one of the strongest regions for competitive debating,” commented Ní Mhaoileoin.Ní Mhaoileoin won the ‘Irish Times Debating Competition’ last year, which she still considers her “most significant achievement” in university debating.
Following the Botswana tournament, both the Hist and the Phil are currently undergoing preparations to host the Trinity intervarsity, which is Ireland’s largest debating tournament. The competition will take place from Thursday January 27 to 29.