Two Indian-Americans Ms. Vanya Shivashankar (13-year-old) and Mr. Gokul Venkatachalam (14-year-old) are co-champions of National spelling bee championship 2015. It is the first time in history of U.S. spelling bee contest.

The National Spelling Bee championship 2015 ended in a tie for a second straight year on Thursday night when two Indian-Americans, Vanya Shivashankar (13-year-old) and Gokul Venkatachalam, (14-year-old) were named co-champions.

The spelling bee championship hadn’t ended with a tie for last 52 years. But this year it’s happend for an unprecedented two years running. Ms. Vanya Shivashankar, of Kansas, is the first sibling of a past champion of Bee. Her sister, Kavya, won in 2009. Ms. Vanya Shivashankar’s final word was “scherenschnitte,” which means the art of cutting paper into decorative designs.

Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam are co-champions of National spelling bee championship 2015
Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam are co-champions of National spelling bee championship 2015

After being informed he’d be the co-champion if he got the next word right, Mr. Gokul Venkatachalam didn’t even bother to ask the definition before spelling “nunatak.” For the record, it means a hill or mountain completely surrounded by glacial ice. Asked what he thought when he got the word, Mr. Gokul Venkatachalam said, “Me and Vanya were going to be the champions.”

Mr. Gokul Venkatachalam, of Chesterfield, Missouri, finished with third position in 2014, behind the two co-champions. He had a gruff on-stage demeanour, asking about the word’s roots and definition before chugging through the letters as if he had dinner plans.

“I wasn’t nervous,” said Mr. Venkatachalam, a LeBron James fan who said his priority for after the bee was watching the NBA finals.

Both bee co-champions are eighth-graders, so it was their last chance.

Ms. Vanya Shivashankar was competing in the bee for the fifth and final time. Her sister, Ms. Kavya Shivashankar, now a sophomore at Columbia University competed four times. It means that, Shivashankar family has made the nine times trip in national spelling bee of the past 10 years.

Year 2015, national spelling bee co-champion, Ms. Vanya Shivashankar, who also acts and plays the tuba and piano, dedicated her victory to her grandmother.

“Everything takes hard work and passion,” Ms. Vanya Shivashankar said. “That’s definitely what I put in and I know Gokul put that into this endeavour as well.”

Proving their superiority over even their toughest competitors, Ms. Vanya Shivashankar and Mr. Gokul Venkatachalam went head-to-head for 10 rounds before the list of 25 championship words was exhausted.

In chronological order, here’s the list of words they conquered, sourced from the Guardian’s liveblog that covered the event. Alongside are their shortened meanings, sourced from Merriam-Webster:

Speller Word Meaning
Vanya cytopoiesis Production of cells
Gokul cocozelle A variety of zucchini
Vanya backfisch German, literally, fish for baking or frying
Gokul población A center of a municipality in the Philippines
Gokul Canossa A place or occasion of submission, humiliation, or penance
Vanya cibarial Relating to food
Gokul zygoneure A connecting neuron
Vanya bouquetière Garnished with vegetables
Gokul caudillismo The doctrine or practice of a caudillo
Vanya thamakau A large outrigger canoe used in the Fiji islands
Gokul scytale A method of cipher writing
Vanya tantième A percentage or proportional share
Gokul cypseline Of or relating to the swifts
Vanya urgrund A primal cause or ultimate cosmic principle
Gokul filicite A fossil fern
Vanya myrmotherine Feeding upon ants
Gokul sprachgefühl The character of a language
Vanya zimocca A rather harsh commercial sponge
Gokul nixtamal Limed kernels of corn that is ready to be ground into masa
Vanya hippocrepiform Shaped like a horseshoe
Gokul paroemiology The subject of proverbs
Vanya scacchite A mineral consisting of native manganese chloride found in volcanic regions
Gokul pipsissewa Any of a genus of evergreen herbs of the wintergreen family
Vanya Bruxellois A native or resident of Brussels, Belgium
Gokul pyrrhuloxia A cardinal-like grosbeak of the southwestern US and Mexico
Vanya scherenschnitte The art of cutting paper into decorative designs
Gokul nunatak A hill or mountain completely surrounded by glacial ice

In previous national spelling bee championship total fourteen winners have been Indian-Americans out of 18 winners.



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