Debating champion wins global contest

By Amy Solomon, January 4, 2012
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Ben Woolgar

Ben Woolgar

A former teenage debating champion has been crowned "Best Speaker in the World" at the World Universities Debating Championships in Manila.

Ben Woolgar, 20, from Belsize Park, won the title earlier this week after competing against nearly 800 speakers.

The third year student, who represented Oxford University, is studying Politics Philosophy and Economics at Balliol College.

The competition, which went on for a week, saw nearly 400 teams from different universities worldwide competing, including Australia, America and Israel.

The participants had just 15 minutes to prepare and then debate a number of motions, including whether private healthcare should be banned and whether there should be free movement of labour.

In 2008, as a pupil at St Paul's School, Mr Woolgar was part of a four-person team that won the World Schools Debating Championships.

He said of his recent win: "It was a pretty phenomenal surprise but obviously a huge honour. Mostly, it was just a fantastic feeling. It wouldn't have been possible without my mentor at school, Max, and my England Schools team coach, Debbie who, as Jewish debaters themselves, I'm sure are very proud"

At the contest, Omar and Sella Nevo, two Israeli brothers from Tel Aviv University won awards for debating using English as a second language section.

    Last updated: 5:17pm, January 4 2012