By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 5 (IANS) Spelling 'juvia' and 'stromuhr' correctly, Indian American Anamika Veeramani has won the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee crown to retain the honour for the 'desis' for the third year in a row.
"I'm really, really happy. This is one of the best moments of my life," said the 14-year-old from North Royalton, Ohio, who defeated another Indian American, Shantanu Srivatsa of West Fargo, North Dakota in the nationally televised final round Friday night to become the bee's 83rd champion.
Her win earns a $30,000 cash prize and engraved trophy from the event's sponsor, The E.W. Scripps Co., along with a $2,500 US savings bond and a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster, a $5,000 scholarship from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation and a package from Encyclopaedia Britannica totalling $3,499.
Friday's final rounds began with 10 contestants, who were eliminated one by one by words such as ochidore, a shore crab, and terribilita, a term applied typically to the art of Michelangelo describing the power and grandeur of his work.
Veeramani, who finished fifth in last year's bee, also survived a marathon four-and-half hour semi-final round earlier Friday that contained a little bit of controversy.
It started when another early favourite, Neetu Chandak, 14, of Seneca Falls, New York who finished eighth last year, appeared to stumble over 'paravane', an underwater glider device, in the fifth round.
But the judges reversed the decision eliminating her, blaming the "ambiguous nature of the answers" when she asked about a root word. But given a second chance in the sixth round, she misspelled 'apogalacteum', the point at which a celestial body is furthest away from the Milky Way.
For the most part, this year's spellers proved to be intrepid. The semi-finals were supposed to last three hours covering two rounds. But the contest was extended to a sixth round because too many spellers -- 19 -- were still on board to qualify for the finals, usually limited to 15 or less.
With NBA star Shaquille O'Neal on hand watching, the sixth round proved brutal. Nine of the first 13 were knocked out, leaving only 10. Judges cancelled the remainder of the sixth round to provide 10 finalists for the evening competition, though a fortunate six had not spelled a word in the round.
The contest began Thursday with 273 spellers ranging in age from 8 to 15, some from as far away as China and New Zealand. They included eight-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, the youngest sister of last year's champion, Kavya Shivashankar.
Kavya too had her own moment of glory when President Barack Obama met her in the Oval Office Thursday and congratulated Kavya on her extraordinary achievement and reiterated the importance of a top-flight education for success in the 21st century economy.