Indian-American eighth-grader Dev Shah crowned 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion
Washington, Jun 2 (PTI) Dev Shaw, a 14-year-old eighth-grader from Florida who correctly spelled the word “psammophile” has won the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Rooster.
Shaw spelled the word correctly to win the 95th National Bee and the USD 50,000 prize on Thursday.
“It’s surreal,” Shaw said on stage after confetti fell on his head and he raised the trophy.
“I don’t know if it’s all right. My legs are still shaking,” he said at the tournament in National Harbor, Maryland.
“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in the last three months and I’m glad I made them,” Shah said. “I’m glad I got back what I sacrificed now.”
After much speculation about a possible spell-off, a laughing Shaw succeeded in correctly pronouncing a plant or animal that thrives in sandy areas as a “psammophile,” according to the Washington Post newspaper.
“Psammo meaning sand, Greek?” he asked. “Phile, meaning love, Greek?”
Shah immediately recognized the roots of his word, but asked for all the information just to be safe, while chuckling slightly as he was sure he had it, the New York Times reported.
Shaw cut back on his extracurricular activities to devote more time to the dictionary. He won’t go to school after the exam in a few days. He would do well to study, Shaw thought. Did his classmates at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School go on an end-of-the-year field trip? No thank you.
“I knew I had to study,” Shaw said. “It paid off.”
Other words that Shaw spelled correctly during the competition were: bathypidotmeter, tolchester, romac, agacrus, schistorachis, polyorcetics, periocy, advice, cocomate and artois.
As soon as he heard that word, Shah knew he had a bee in his pocket.
“I don’t feel like I’m competing against anybody,” Shah said. “Between rounds, and even during rounds, we congratulate each other. That’s what separates the spelling bee from other competitions. Everyone is together.”
Former speller Scott Remer, who coached six of Thursday’s finalists, began working with Shaw three years ago, according to USA Today newspaper.
“One of the things that impressed me most about Dev was his persistence and his dedication,” Remer said. “He’s extraordinarily mature, self-motivated.”
This is Shah’s third attempt. His previous two attempts were in 2019 and 2021.
Shah’s parents were emotional when they took the stage, and his mother said he had been preparing for this for four years.
Last year, Shaw faltered at regionals and didn’t make it to nationals. In 2021, a virtual tournament, he advanced to the Pioneers in the third round. The pandemic canceled the 2020 Bee and in 2019, Shaw bowed out in the quarterfinals.
At 14, this was his last chance. He responded by training around the clock, including two hours a week with Remer.
“It’s hard to get delayed gratification (as a middle schooler),” Remer said.
Over three days at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, Shah showed poise on stage, asking the right questions to elicit what information he could from speakers and using an “amazing” command of word stems and roots, the report added.
11 students made it to the finals after 11 million people from around the world participated in the writing competition.
The preliminary rounds began on Tuesday, with the quarter-finals and semi-finals taking place on Wednesday.
Charlotte Walsh, a 14-year-old girl from Arlington, Virginia, took second place. Half an hour after Shaw won, he returned to the stage for a congratulatory hug.
In 2022, Harini Logan, a 14-year-old Indian-American eighth grader from Texas, defeated her compatriot Vikram Raju to win the competition.
The National Bee is a high-stakes, high-pressure endurance test, much like a nerd writing competition. For the past 20 years, Indian-Americans have dominated the spelling bee competition, accounting for only about 1 percent of the U.S. population.
The US Spelling Bee reflects the dominance of young children from minority communities in this prestigious exam for more than a decade.
Balu Natarajan won in 1985