TAMPA, Fla., (July 16, 2003)—Beating teams from 17 other countries, the United States captured the gold medal today at the sixth National Geographic World Championship, hosted by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. The team from Germany came in second, and France was third. The United States was the defending champion.
The U.S. team included captain John Rice (15), of Maddock, N.D.; Dallas Simons (13), of Nashville, Tenn.; and Alexander Smith (15) of Burlington, N.C. The German team members were captain Julian Nitzsche (14), from Bautzen; Sebastian Norck (15), from Sonneberg; and Sebastian Wildgrube (16), from Meuro. The French team comprised captain Vincent Lafon (13), from Paris; Thibault Decazes (14), from Versailles; and Antony Lee (15), from Les Ulis.
The winning teams were honored in an Olympic-style awards ceremony, receiving gold, silver and bronze medals. Alex Trebek, host of the U.S. television quiz show “Jeopardy!”, moderated today’s finals.
The United States, Germany and France qualified for the championship round after obtaining the highest combined scores in a written contest and in Tuesday’s preliminary round, which included an outdoor map-reading course.
Students qualified for the World Championship competition by winning or being a top finisher in the national competitions of their home countries. The 15 other teams that competed this year were from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Hungary, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Teams taking part for the first time included Bulgaria, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland and Portugal.
John Fahey, president of the National Geographic Society, said the competition was a great way for talented young geographers around the world to match wits against each other and to enjoy a rewarding cross-cultural exchange. “The competition enhances international dialogue and understanding and promotes friendships around the globe,” he added.
The World Championship is held every two years. The first contest, held in London in 1993, was won by the United States, which beat teams from the United Kingdom and Russia. The Australians, competing against four other teams, won the 1995 competition in Orlando, Fla. The third championship, held in 1999 at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., was won by Canada, which bested teams from eight other countries. The United States won the fourth competition in Toronto in 1999 and the 2001 contest, against 11 other teams, in Vancouver, Canada.