National Spelling Bee has two winners again

Vanya Shivashankar, 13, and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, hoisted the gold trophy amid a flurry of confetti after they clinched the 88th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

CHARLES Hamilton Jr, the Bahamas representative in the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee, performed creditably in the early rounds in Washington, DC, as 285 hopefuls battled for places in the semi-finals of the prestigious event this week. This is also the first time a sibling of a former champion won. Her sister won the bee in 2009. After being informed he’d be the co-champion if he got the next word right, Gokul didn’t even bother to ask the definition before spelling “nunatak”. “They make lists out of Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, which is probably why Vanya could say, ‘I’ve seen that word several times, ’ because they’re very thorough in their preparation”. When asked about what’s next, these co-champions are looking forward to the same thing.

The winning word came so easily to the eighth-grader from St Louis, Missouri, that he skipped the routine of asking for the word’s origin, meaning and usage in a sentence. Vanya was competing in the bee for the fifth and final time.

As for their career plans, Vanya is an aspiring cardiac surgeon and Gokul hopes to go to Stanford and become an entrepreneur or stockbroker.

The words included: bouquetière, caudillismo, thamakau, scytale, Bruxellois and pyrrhuloxia.

“Clearly, this suggests that a different approach should be used in preparing Bahamian students not only for participation in the Bahamas National Spelling Bee, but also in getting our champion ready to compete in the Scripps Bee”, Mr Brown said.

Before the bee began, executive director Paige Kimble predicted it would be another 50 years before it ended in a tie.

“I think they can do whatever they want”, she says. “Moreover, I think consideration should be given to selecting a National Coach, following the example of Jamaica, whose legendary National Spelling Coach Dr Glen Archer died last year”, Mr Brown said. Fourteen-year-old Cole Shafer-Ray of Norman, Oklahoma, making his first appearance in the finals, finished third. With this year’s success, young Indian-Americans have won as many as 14 of the past 18 contests and the eighth year in a row.

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