VIDEO: Teen Earns Windsor's First Appearance at US Spelling Bee
The biggest spelling bee in the US will have a bit of Canadian flavour — including a competitor from Windsor.
Thirteen-year-old Rishi Damarla is one of just three Canadians participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C Monday. Damarla — who lives in LaSalle but goes to school in Windsor — will be the first ever competitor from the region to take the stage for the nationally televised event that boasts a $50,000 prize.
The Academie Ste-Cecile student is being sponsored by the WFCU Credit Union after winning both the regional and national spelling bee in Canada. When it comes to spelling Damarla is a cool customer.
"It's nerve wracking but at the same time it's very enjoyable because after you put in the hard work you realize that it sort of pays off at the end," Damarl says.
He practices 12-hours a day on weekends and 6-hours a day during the week — checking off words in a dictionary he wants to focus on.
Damarla records them using his computer to hear, repeat and memorize, writing some of them down on good old fashion cue cards to piece together words he may have never heard before.
"'Pterid' from greek means a fern so, like maybe the word 'pteridophyte' you can sort of piece together the word because 'pterid' means fern and 'phyte' means plant and it's just 'pteridophyte' -- the 'oh' sound is just spelled 'o' in Greek," he added.
Competing in spelling bees is a chance for the teenager to widen his vocabulary and prepare himself for higher education.
But Damarla tells CTV Windsor he's just focused on doing the best he can in Washington.
"I mean this is the first time anyone from Windsor has gone so I think this is a great opportunity for me," says Damarla.
The 91st annual Scripps National Spelling Bee begins Monday with the finals set for Thursday — that will be broadcast on TSN2 at 10am.
— with files from CTV Windsor's Ricardo Veneza.