Jonas Von Essen has been crowned winner of the 2013 World Memory Championships at an awards ceremony held in Croydon yesterday.
Essen, a student from Sweden, beat German reigning world champion Johannes Mallow after a three days of competition.
The Championships saw contestants tested in 10 different disciplines, which ranged from speed cards to memorising abstract images and historic dates.
Following his victory, a delighted Essen addressed his rivals: “This has been three amazing days and it has been so great to come here and meet all of you cool and inspirational people, I hope to see you here again next year.”
Essen, who can memorise 100 digits while holding his breath under water and is a keen parachutist away from the memory table, won the competition by a margin of 810 points
Christopher Day, general secretary for the World Memory Sports Council, commented that 25 year-old Essen is “a lovely gentle person,” and that “he’s a teacher primarily and has only been practising his memory for a year.”
Day continued: “He came across to the UK in August to take part in the open memory championships in the Science Museum, and he won that. For someone who has only a year of experience that is an amazing achievement, but to then go on to win the world championships and eclipse former winner Johannes Mallow, that is absolutely stunning.”
Essen appeared on Monday’s BBC Newsnight where he, ironically, forgot host Jeremy Paxman’s name. The clip of the talk show however has gone viral and after being shared on Radio 2 is the most watched YouTube clip of the past 24 hours.
Day claims that Newsnight “did not look after Jonas well” and explained that they did not realise that “he had been through an exceptionally tiring weekend and a long prize ceremony and was absolutely dead on his feet.”
“He’s found fame,” laughs Day “but for something he’s probably not too pleased about.”
The championship, which was held in Croydon conference centre last week, has been named “the best ever” in the event’s 22-year history by organisers from the World Memory Sports Council.
Day believes it is Croydon itself that made the competition such a success this year: “Croydon really welcomed the championship with open arms. The mayor opened the doors of the town hall and its reception which gave us the chance for all of the 33 countries to be presented with their flags and their team.”
The event moves around the world with participating countries taking turns to host and is due to take place in China next year. It seems that this year’s event however will be hard to top.
“It was a great success at the Croydon conference centre and they were absolutely wonderful with us” says Day, “we would love to bring the event back to them in the future.”