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Sukanya Roy wins spelling bee crown

world Updated: Jun 03, 2011 10:51 IST

Spelling tongue twister cymotrichous, Greek for having wavy hair, Indian American Sukanya Roy has won the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee crown to retain the coveted honour for the community for the fourth year in a row.

Roy, 14, an eighth-grader at Abington Heights Middle School, Pennsylvania, said she knew as soon as she heard "cymotrichous" that she'd get the word right and win the championship on Thursday night.

"My heart started pounding, I guess," she said.

"I couldn't believe it... It's just amazing. It's hard to put into words."

It was Roy's third trip to the national spelling bee, and she had credited her past experience with keeping her calm and relaxed heading into the finals. She tied for 12th place in 2009 and 20th place in 2010.

Roy speaks Bengali and every summer travels to India to visit family. She hopes to pursue a career in international relations.

Roy is the ninth Indian-American in the last 13 years, a run that began when Nupur Lala captured the crown in 1999 and was later featured in the documentary "Spellbound."

The winner will be awarded a $30,000 cash prize, a trophy, a $2,500 US savings bond, a complete reference library, a $5,000 scholarship and $2,600 in reference works and other prizes.

Anamika Veeramani had scored a hat-trick for Indian-Americans in taking the crown last year.

Roy was one of the six Indian Americans - Sriram Hathwar, Arvind Mahankali, Prakash Mishra, Mashad Arora, and Dhivya Senthil Murugan - who made it to the last 13 in the finals.

The youngest finalist was 10-year-old Dhivya Murugan of Denver, who was born in India.

The spelling bee kids just keep getting better and better.

Even words like chlorthalidone, dreikanter, renminbi and helichrysum couldn't sufficiently narrow down the field in the semifinals, which needed 95 minutes of overtime earlier on Thursday to whittle the competitors from 41 to 13.

The week began with 275 spellers. A written test on Tuesday and two oral rounds on Wednesday reduced the field for the semifinals.

According to the Scripps Spelling Bee's website, this year brought contenders ranging in age from 8 to 15 years old from all over the world.