It is a proud moment for India as Indian-origin girl Harini Logan has won the US National Spelling Bee championship regaining the title for the community after two breaks in the streak of victories going back to 2008. She surpassed 234 children from around the US and abroad to grab the title and took home a prize package of $52,500. Following her was the runner up Vikram Raju, who received $25,00, and Vihan Sibal made it to the third spot by winning $15,000. Logan, who is 14, is a class 8 student at a Montessori school in Austin, Texas.
Interestingly, of the 14 finalists who survived three days of gruelling contests in Washington, 11 were of Indian origin. Children of Indian origin have dominated the contest, which tests not only the rote memorisation of spellings but also the knowledge of the origin of words and their structure and usage.
Since Balu Natarajan won it in 1985, 20 Indian-origin children have won it. They monopolised it from 2008 to 2018, but in 2019 a non-Indian girl was among the eight co-winners. The other seven were of Indian origin.
There was no contest in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic and an African-American girl won when it resumed last year.
The final elimination round this year had the children select the correct meaning of words from a list of choices, rather than just spell words.
Logan was initially knocked out in this round but was reinstated when the judges ruled that her answer was also correct. She and Raju duelled for several rounds in which both either mis-spelt the words or got them right.
To break the deadlock they went into a "spell-off" in which they had to rapidly spell correctly as many words as possible within 90 seconds.
Logan defeated Raju by spelling 21 words correctly to his 15.
The Spelling Bee, which has been held since 1925, is sponsored by the EWScripps media company.
-with IANS inputs