Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Scripps National Spelling Bee was canceled. A middle school student won an online spelling competition.
In a new event created after Scripps was canceled due to the pandemic, Navneeth Murali, 14, of Edison, N.J., won the SpellPundit Online National Spelling Bee.
Since the third grade, Murali has been participating in spelling bees and is devastated by the news.
He says, “It was a heartbreaking moment for all the [spellers], especially eighth graders like me because we won’t have another chance to compete again. We have spent thousands of hours preparing for this competition and made many sacrifices.”
The experience of competing online did not affect Murali much, even though this was not his first virtual spelling bee or national title.
He says, “Virtual spelling bees are a different experience, but they offer spellers the opportunity to compete against the nation’s best.”
Shobha and Shourav Dasari founded SpellPundit at 16 and 19 to help aspiring students prepare for school and national competitions.
According to the co-founders, the only requirements were to complete four written tests for the semifinal and final rounds.
Of the 280 students who registered for the $2,500 cash prize, 16 made it to the final round.
Murali says, “I couldn’t have done this without God’s grace and my mother’s help. She stuck by my side for the last three or four years and helped me harness my spelling potential.”
Shobha and Shourav say Murali is one of the best spellers in the country.
Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, tells Yahoo Life that she is proud of every competitor.
She said, “We’re confident they would have shined on our stage this evening and aren’t surprised that they rose to the top. We know they will excel in any academic endeavor they engage in. Naturally, our hearts go out to all our spellers who had hoped to join us in National Harbor, Maryland, this week.”