Who is behind the Olympiad?
Swiss participation in the International Chemistry Olympiad is organized by the Swiss Chemistry Olympiad (SwissChO) Association. This association counts about 20 active members, all excited about chemistry and most of whom were former participants to previous IChOs and are now university students, employed chemists or active and retired chemistry teachers at the high school level.
They are all working on a completely voluntary basis. Our association is not only responsible for the annual selection of the Swiss team, we also facilitate exchange and dialogue as well as encourage friendship and share our enthusiasm for chemistry with the next generation. Via the association Science Olympiads, the interdisciplinary exchange between the different national Olympiads is promoted.
The first International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) was held in 1968 in Prague, Czech Republic. The participants were high school students from three countries, Former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland. Following its success, the number of participating countries rose steadily over the years. The first time Switzerland participated in the competition was in 1987, hosted by Veszprém, Hungary. The Swiss team consisted of four students from a Lausanne high school under the supervision of Maurice Cosandey. Not knowing what to expect nor what to prepare for, they ranked 88th, 97th, 98th and 99th – out of 103 participants.
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Over the next few years, special training was organised for interested students and the results improved accordingly. The first bronze medal was won in Paris, France, in 1990 and was quickly followed by a silver medal in Łódź, Poland, in 1991. Since then, Switzerland has obtained an average of one medal per year. Up to now, only two gold medals were won - one in Pittsburgh, USA, in 1992 and another in Moscow, Russia, in 1996. Nowadays, IChO has around 80 regularly participating countries and is still growing.