Imperial College London wins University Challenge for historic fourth time

05 Apr 2022 | Network Updates | Update from Imperial College London
These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network

Imperial College London has won University Challenge for the fourth time – making it the TV quiz tournament’s joint most successful team of all time.

The Imperial student team – comprising captain Michael Mays, Fatima Sheriff, Gilbert Jackson and Max Zeng (supported by reserve Felix Swift Roberts) – defeated the University of Reading by ten points in a thrilling final on BBC Two tonight (Monday, 4 April 2022).

After wins in 1996, 2001 and 2020, Imperial now ranks with Magdalen College, Oxford and the University of Manchester as the joint most successful teams in the quiz tournament’s history – each holding four crowns.

Imperial’s Provost Professor Ian Walmsley said: “We are incredibly proud of our Imperial team and congratulate them on this historic victory.

“Collaboration, creative thinking and deep knowledge are all part of our commitment to excellence at Imperial, and the team has all of these qualities in abundance.”

Team Captain Michael May, a PhD student in Computational Fluid Dynamics in Imperial’s Department of Aeronautics<>, said: "Being on University Challenge has been an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience – and winning the competition this year is truly unbelievable.

“More than that, to have found four close friends in my amazingly talented teammates Fatima, Max and Gilbert and reserve Felix is something for which I’ll be eternally thankful.

“I’d also like to thank the family, friends and fans who’ve supported our team throughout – you’ve all helped to get us there in the end!"

In preparation for University Challenge, the team spent months revising their specialist subjects and practising quizzes as a close-knit group.

MSc Science Communication<> student Fatima specialised in literature, while Gilbert, who is studying a MSc in Chemistry<>, focused on music and art.

Michael’s specialist subjects were history and philosophy, and Max, a Biochemistry<> undergraduate, impressed audiences with his geography knowledge.

After winning this year’s show, the team hopes it can inspire future Imperial student teams who compete in University Challenge.

Fatima Sheriff said: “I really hope that we can foster the same level of commitment and enthusiasm for quizzing.

“The real gift is the team camaraderie, the bonding over stupid facts at silly hours and the in-jokes we have. The months of training together are the most fun I've ever had.”

Throughout the contest, the Imperial team has also enjoyed the support of its mascot, Buffy the Bat.

Fatima added: “I asked the team, ‘Hey guys, why don’t we have this bat be our mascot?’ They all agreed because it was either that or Gilbert’s sloth pillow, which is adorable but a little large!

“I embroidered a little bib on the bat with the Imperial blue ‘I’ onto it. Her name’s Buffy the bat, inspired by my love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer!” 

Find out more about Fatima, Michael, Gilbert and Max in our Imperial Stories piece, Speedy buzzing, bonus rounds and Buffy the bat<>.

To reach this year’s finals, the team beat Emmanuel College, Cambridge in the semi-finals and overcame other teams including University of Exeter and St John's College, Cambridge.

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