Northern Ireland

University Challenge: Ballymena student reaches new degree of success

The Gonville & Caius team
Image caption Michael Taylor says one of the keys to success for Gonville and Caius was a sense of trust between the teammates

He's the brainy Ballymena student with all the right answers.

Michael Taylor reached a new degree of success when he helped lead Gonville and Caius College to victory in the grand final of long-running academic quiz show University Challenge on Monday night.

When the gong sounded at the end of the show, the Cambridge college were comfortable 255-105 winners over Magdalen College of Oxford, denying their opponents what would have been a record fifth title.

Specialising

But despite collecting one of the most coveted and illustrious prizes in university circles, Michael admits he can recall little of the experience.

"You're under pressure, the lights are on you, and even though you're being tested on your memory my memory of the days isn't great."

The former Ballymena Academy pupil, who has just completed a PhD in history, formed part of a foursome also specialising in law, medicine and natural sciences.

And a strategy of rigorous research and revision also proved crucial, even though they had no serious designs on the title at the competition's outset.

Trust

"I think we had a good team which covered as many bases as possible.

"We looked at old shows and worked out what kind of subjects came up regularly, and then we each had our own jobs to go off and revise certain areas."

Michael, a keen cricketer, says a competitive, sporting team spirit was one of the keys dominating the series.

"It's not a sport but we treated it like a sport," he says.

"You have to trust your teammates and just go with it when one of us feels we might know an answer to something."

Phenomenal

But as well as that, Gonville and Caius were spurred on to triumph by a stunning individual performance from law student Ted Loveday, whose quickfire answers gained plenty of attention on social media.

And Michael believes Ted's display will go down in history as one of the show's most memorable efforts.

"I think it was the greatest ever individual performance in the history of University Challenge, and to have done it in the final makes it all the more remarkable."