14-year-old basketball prodigy wins the Scripps National Spelling Contest with “murraya”
Whether it’s dribbling basketball or identifying the roots of obscure Latin or Greek, Zaila Avant-garde did not show much pressure.
The 14-year-old boy from Harvey, Louisiana, easily won the championship in the Scripps National Spelling Contest on Thursday night, becoming the first African-American champion and the second black man in the history of the bee in 96 years. champion.
Zaila describes spelling as a hobby, even though she practices 7 hours a day. She is a basketball prodigy and hopes to play in the WNBA one day and holds three Guinness World Records for dribbling multiple balls at the same time.
Zaila spins and jumps excitedly after spelling out the winning word “murraya”, which is a type of tree in tropical Asia and Australia.
There was only one word that caused her real trouble, “nepeta”, an old world mint, and when she got the word right, she jumped higher than when she got the trophy.
Chaitra Thummala, a 12-year-old girl from Frisco, Texas, won the runner-up. Both Zaila and Chaitra are taught by 20-year-old Yale University student Cole Shafer-Ray, who was the runner-up of Scripps University in 2015.
The only previous black champion was Jody-Anne Maxwell in Jamaica in 1998. Zaila also broke a winning streak dating back to 2008, during which at least one champion or joint champion was South Asian.