Bronze medal for Sri Lanka at International Biology Olympiad 2017 : Passion and teamwork the key to success, says Dilshan | Sunday Observer

Bronze medal for Sri Lanka at International Biology Olympiad 2017 : Passion and teamwork the key to success, says Dilshan

Sri Lankan participants at the opening ceremony of IBO 2017
Sri Lankan participants at the opening ceremony of IBO 2017

The IBO is an annual event where students from all over the world compete on their knowledge of Biology. The participants are Pre-University school students. To take part in the IBO, the students must be among the top four in the National Biology Olympiad in their individual countries.

Dilshan Weerasinghe, a student of St. Peter’s College, Colombo, won the Bronze medal at the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) 2017 held at the University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom, recently.

Over 250 talented young students and Jury members from 61 countries participated in this competition. IBO 2017 was organised by the Royal Society of Biology in partnership with the University of Warwick. Nisal Punsara from Rahula College Matara, Anagi Kottahachchi from Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Colombo and Sachini Mayanka Hettiarachchi from Mahamaya Girls’ College, Kandy, also participated in this competition with three Jury members, Prof. M. J. S. Wijeyaratne from the University of Kelaniya, Prof. Hiran Amarasekera and Prof. Nissanka de Silva from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

The Sunday Observer spoke to Dilshan Weerasinghe about his interest in Biology and his achievement. Having studied at St. Peter’s College, Colombo from Grade one to Grade 13, he said, “I sat the GCE A/L examination in August 2016 in the Biology stream and was able to obtain 3 As and was placed 5th in the Colombo District and 14th in the island. I am currently selected to the Medical Faculty of the Colombo University and awaiting admission,” he said.

“I have heard of the Biology Olympiads since Grade Nine and how challenging it is even to the brightest students. I was always enthusiastic to participate in the IBO. In 2016, my Biology teacher Tissa Jananayaka handed out application forms for the Sri Lanka Biology Olympaid (SLBO) 2017.This made me apply for the competition. There was a national round of exams called, SLBO held in July annually, to select students for the IBO. I applied, and was placed 2nd and obtained a Gold medal. The Gold and Silver medalists, totalling 24 had a second round of exams to select nine students out of them. I got selected to this group as well. Then, the nine of us were given a third round of exams including theoretical and practical tasks. Along with me three students were selected for the final round to represent Sri Lanka at the IBO 2017,” Weerasinghe said.

He said, they had a short training period at the University of Sri Jayawardenapura and Colombo. “Many Professors, doctors and University personnel, namely, Prof. M. J. S. Wijeyaratne, Prof Hiran Amarasekera, Prof Nissanka de Silva, Dr. Pradeepika Saputhanthri, Dr. Hashendra Kathiriarchchi and Dr. Jagathpriya motivated us and supported us throughout the whole process to prepare for the IBO. My fellow participants helped each other and studied together, so that my achievement was actually the result of teamwork,” he said.

Weerasinghe said, the International Biology Olympiad Competition is based on theory and practical examinations on knowledge and expertise in Biology. “In addition to providing scientific challenges and the chance to win medals, the competition gave the young Bio enthusiasts a unique opportunity to get together with other young people with an interest in Science. A total of 68 countries, including, China, Denmark, India, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom and United States of America participated in the competition. Haoyu Zhou from China won the first place,” he said.

Weerasinghe said that when he was in Primary School he was curious about the extinct Dinosaurs, their fossil remnants and how human evolution was affected. “This made me love the subject of Biology. Currently I am mostly interested in Genetics, Human Anatomy and Molecular Biology. My future ambition is to become a doctor and specialize in the neurology field. I would then be able to work in a field that I am interested in and save many human lives. I want to enjoy my profession, that is why I chose it. During my leisure I read books, mainly science fictions, fantasy and thrillers, watch movies and TV series but mostly I enjoy trying to learn new things like different languages,” he said.

He says, following one’s passion will lead to many great things in life. “I had a huge interest in Biology; that is why I chose to pursue this path and what I want to tell all my brothers and sisters is to follow their passion. I believe this will lead you to many great things in life. My parents help me tremendously. They are my great supporters who helped me to obtain a bronze medal at the IBO. My teachers too helped me throughout the years. I wish to especially mention the professors and university demonstrators at the Universities of Sri Jayawardanapura and Colombo, along with my fellow teammates who helped me obtain this medal at IBO. I am thankful to all of them,” he said. 

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