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Indian American kids sweep Spelling Bee contest


Washington: Indian American kids today maintained their complete dominance in the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee contest by winning the prestigious competition for the eight year in a row.

Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam were declared co-champions; a feat achieved by Indian Americans for the second consecutive year.

In 2014, Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe were declared the joint winners.

Indian American Cole Shafer-Ray from Oklahoma bagged the third spot.

This is for the eight successive year that Indian Americans won the prestigious competition and 13th in the last 16 years.

“This is a dream come true. I have wanted this for such a long time,” Vanya said while dedicating the award to her grandmother who passed away in October last year.

Appearing for the fifth and final time before the Spelling Bee, Vanya, 13, is eighth grader student from Kansas.

This year 25 of the 49 finalists were Indian Americans.

Of the last 10, seven were Indian Americans.

Vanya’s older sister, Kavya, won the 2009 championship.

Vanya previously competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2010, 2012 (tied for 10th place), 2013 (tied for 5th place) and 2014 (tied for 13th place).

In his previous appearances Gokul tied for the 10th place in 2012 and bagged 19th place in 2013.

In addition to acting, Vanya also plays tuba and piano, and she recently won the Mid-America Music Association award for Exceptional Pianist and Jazz Pianist.

An eighth grader from St Louis Missouri, Gokul, 14, said he had worked hard for the contest for the past several years.

He takes to spelling like his idol LeBron James does to basketball.

In addition to playing basketball, Gokul is a fan of rap and alternative music, counting among his favorite artists Nas, Linkin Park and Macklemore.

When he’s not listening to music, he likes to read — his top pick is Life of Pi — or watch his favorite movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past.

At school, Gokul is drawn to math and economics.

He dreams of attending Stanford University and studying business so that he can become an entrepreneur or a stockbroker.

For several years now, Indian-Americans have put up formidable challenges to their competitors and won most of the prestigious spelling awards in the United States.

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