The best reason to be in South-East Asia this holiday

Monday, 3 January 2005 — 1:15pm | Debate

Not to sound morbid, but believe it or not, there was one. If you weren’t there (and I wasn’t either), you missed out.

For those of you who, for some baffling reason, have not been following this year’s World Universities Debating Championship in Malaysia, here’s the rundown: one Alberta team in the break (Stephanie Wanke and Alex Ragan), and two Canadian teams in the Grand Final: Erik Eastaugh and Jamie Furniss from Ottawa, Michael Kotrly and Joanna Nairn from Hart House – well, unless you consider Mikey a UBC expat.

And Ottawa won.

In First Proposition.

Hot damn.

I have a request: that Spencer, or some other blogger who was in attendance, tell us all about the round. What use are these reverse-chronological websites for, if not maverick reporting on exactly this kind of event?

In the meantime, let me proceed with two funny stories; funny, mind you, but not ha-ha funny.

My very first encounter with Michael Kotrly in my novice year was when Stephen Potyondi and I faced him and Ethel Tungohan in Round 3 of the 2002 Hugill Cup, which was also a British Parliamentary (Worlds Style) tournament that year. Mikey and Ethel took a fourth. I paid no heed to it until two things happened later that day, one involving a gaping and incredulous Kawanami, and the other being slapped around by the same team in the Round 5 bins.

Since then, I have learned that the Round 3 in question was the anomaly, and given Mikey and Jo’s thundering paths of destruction on the CUSID circuit in the past year (Kotrly/Crossman at DDT, Nairn/Hoddes at Pac Cup, and the two of them at Boston University), ending up in the Worlds Grand Final is – while I wouldn’t say expected – a fully deserved reflection of their calibre.

Ottawa, on the other hand, secured the third Canadian victory at the WUDC, of which Malaysia’s turn was the 25th anniversary. The last two were at the first Worlds in 1981, a 43-team event in Glasgow, and on home turf in 1991, hosted at Hart House.

So to all those folks at the Kappa Alpha Literary Society who insist to me time and again that a KA by the name of Martin Kennedy was a former world debating champion – if he did, it sure wasn’t at the Worlds we know. It’s true that the U of A Debate Society’s records are spotty between the late sixties up to the mid-nineties, but we would be aware. I believe Alberta’s best Worlds finish on record is still Stef and Alex breaking to quarters and placing 12th in 2002 (other than Ajit Singh winning public speaking with his “privatize the Israel-Palestine conflict” speech I keep hearing about from those who attended Stellenbosch ’03), but I welcome corrections from those with a longer memory.

I also welcome information about this alleged Martin Kennedy and what, if anything, he won at Worlds. A speaking award, perhaps? Comedy night? So far, the only specific tournament victory I have uncovered is that he was definitely involved with the UADS at some point, winning Grant Davy’s with Grant Yiu in 1993. Stef Wanke won it with Grant the year following, so it’s not like we’re completely disconnected from that era.

He’s definitely not a no-name, but he’s definitely not a world champion either, or you’d think he would have mentioned it in his bio on Page 4 of this high school workshop package (a huge file in Word format dated August ’99; Ranjan Agarwal is on page 5):

Martin Kennedy is currently the Provincial Program Coordinator for ADSA. An alumnus of Archbishop MacDonald High School in Edmonton, he studied for a B.A. at the University of Alberta, and worked for two years in the field of native economic development. He began working for the Association in July of 1995.

Martin competed in Senior High Debate from 1986-1988, winning the Provincials and National Invitationals in 1988. He was a member of the World Championship Team Canada in the 1988 Australian competition, and has since adjudicated or competed at University debate tournaments in Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Montreal, Glasgow, Moscow and Kiev. He is a recipient of the Province of Alberta Achievement Award, the City of Edmonton Award, and the University of Alberta Gold Key Award. An 8 time University debate Champion, and Top Speaker at the 1989 McGoun Cup, he has instructed at workshops since 1988.

One of the dinos from the era in which we lack very much conclusive documentation, then. Oxford won Sydney ’88, but I do wonder how Alberta placed. Pass the Gateway bound editions, please.


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