Otago debaters in world top four

Paul Hunt
Paul Hunt
The Otago University Debating Society has announced itself as a force to be reckoned with after its top team made the top four of this year's World Universities Debating Championship in Berlin yesterday (NZ time).

Debating society president Paul Hunt, who was competing in Berlin as part of the Otago C team, said having a team make it to the grand final of the prestigious tournament was by far and away its best result at a world championships.

Otago A, made up of Alec Dawson and Kieran James Bunn, eventually lost the grand final - which was made up of four teams - to Monash B, but beat some of the more fancied teams, including Oxford A, on their way to the top four.

Mr Hunt said making the top four out of about 400 teams would put the society on the map when it came to future tournaments.

''When we came to tournaments in the past, we were thought of as one of the minor institutions, but now we are really a serious outfit,'' he said.

Making the grand final capped off what was already a successful world championships for the society, with all three of its teams ''breaking'' into the final 48.

''We broke more teams than Oxford, which only broke two teams.''

The society was not considered a favourite before the competition, with ''debating blogs'' describing their success as the ''Cinderella story of the tournament''.

In the grand final, Otago A argued that religious organisations should not be able to remove people because of their views.

In the quarterfinal, where they knocked out two of the teams favoured to win the tournament, they argued that all forms of advertising should be banned.

''They ran quite an extreme but sophisticated case in that debate, which really took a lot of the favourites by surprise,'' he said.

Mr Hunt said the society wanted to thank its sponsor, Gallaway Cook Allan, which helped ensure they could bring three teams to the championships.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz