New Zealand's team at the 2013 World Schools Debating Championships in Turkey, captained by Wanganui teenager James Penn, has bowed out of the competition after losing its first debate of the tournament's knockout phase.
Despite going into the finals stage in first place, New Zealand Schools' Debating Council president Desley Horton said the team lost the debate to Canada on Sunday in a four-to-one split decision while negating that welfare support to compulsive gamblers should be cut - a moot they had just one hour to prepare an argument against.
Earlier debates had canvassed religious education in schools and the media's right to delve into the private lives of public figures.
New Zealand had been the only unbeaten team in the competition until the loss to Canada, defeating Wales, Ireland, Argentina, Turkey, Malaysia, Slovakia, Lebanon and Singapore in the preliminary rounds.
As well as the competition in Turkey, James Penn has attended the World Schools Debating Championships, as a member of New Zealand's school debating team, in 2011 (Scotland) and 2012 (South Africa).
Ms Horton said New Zealand had not lost a preliminary debate in the time James Penn had been a member of the team.
He was joined this year by Thomas Simpson (Hamilton Boys' High), Ashley Varney (King's College) and Edward Foley (Wellington College). The four were coached by Clodagh O'Connor-McKenna and Udayan Mukherjee, both former champion university debaters.
Ms Horton said the group would hopefully now get the chance to do some sightseeing.