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Scripps National Spelling Bee 2016: NRI boys Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Janga crowned co-champions

The National Spelling Bee ended up in a tie for the third year running as Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Janga shared the spoils.

National Spelling Bee
Nihar Janga (L) belongs to Texas while Jairam Hathwar belongs to New York (13)

The 2016 edition of the Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie for the third year running as Jairam Hathwar (13) and Nihar Janga (11), two boys of Indian origin, were crowned co-champions on Thursday after an intense battle and an exhilarating finish. More than 280 kids participated in this annual event that has been catching the imagination of people all around the world for many years now.

According to a report by ESPN, organisers decided to make the competition tougher after ending up with a tie for two consecutive years. This year, the number of words were increased for the final two spellers, making it even tougher for them. An interesting turn of events towards the end saw Jairam spell two words incorrectly but fortunately for him, Nihar followed it up by misspelling as well. 

The organisers decided to go really hard on the final two spellers by digressing from the usual “championship words” to give them tougher obstacles. Usually, final contestants are well versed with words originating from Greek and Latin but organisers, this time, asked them to spell words deriving from incredibly difficult languages like Irish Gaelic, Afrikaans, Mayan and even Maori.

While Jairam won the competition with the word “Feldenkrais,” Nihar did it with “gesellschaft”. The latter squandered two chances of winning the competition all by himself but held his nerve to spell the third word correctly and become the youngest champion on record. However, he was pretty stylish during the competition and defined words to exude his knowledge along with the spelling. Both winners took home trophies along with a whopping $45,000 dollars. 

Speaking after the event, Nihar said, “I’m just speechless. I can’t say anything. I mean, I’m only in fifth grade.” The finals of the competition were aired live on ESPN, making things even more jittery for both boys. 

Some of the words spelled correctly by the winners were quite mind boggling and left viewers stunned. Words they spelled correctly to get through the competition include groenedael, euchologion, kjeldahl, juamave and zindiq. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is regarded as the premium spelling competition in the world and it invites a large number of participants every year.

Third place in this year’s competition went to Sneha Kumar (13) while Sylvie Lamontagne (13) was fourth. The Scripps National Spelling Bee has an age limit of 13, meaning that both Kumar and Lamontagne will get another shot at winning it.

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