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Spelling bee champion triumphs with 'cymotrichous'

Spelling bee champion Sukanya Roy held on through repeated perfect rounds – where no spellers made any mistakes – to triumph at the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

By Staff writer / June 3, 2011

Sukanya Roy of South Abington Township, Pa., reacts after winning the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee, in Oxon Hill, Md., on Thursday, June 2. She won by spelling the word 'cymotrichous,' which means wavy hair.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

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It wasn’t exactly a piece of cake, but Sukanya Roy’s journey to become this year’s champion speller started off with an easy word to chew on: “croissant.”

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By round 13 of the spelling bee, she had conquered such tongue twisters as “psephomancy” and “zwischenspiel.”

In her crowning moment of decoding, she spelled out on her palm as she spoke the letters of “cymotrichous,” which means having wavy hair. Then her palm went up to cover her smile as she soaked in the realization that she had won the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington.

“I’m just kind of in shock," Sukanya said, according to the Associated Press. “They were very hard words, but all the words I got, I just knew.”

This was the third and final trip to the national bee for the 8th-grader from South Abington Township, Penn. The fourth consecutive student of Indian origin to win the bee also hikes, competes in math challenges, and plays the violin.

A competition that began earlier in the week with 275 spellers was narrowed down to 13 finalists by Thursday night. Five spellers hung on way beyond the time originally allotted by broadcaster ESPN, nailing word after word and nervously wondering who would be the first to stumble.

Two Canadians had hoped to be the first from their country to win the trophy. Veronica Penny missed the word “rougeot.” Laura Newcombe, who came in second, missed the word “sorites” by one letter, adding a “p” in front of the “s.”

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