"The Spellmaster also helps promote unity amongst students island wide" this is what leading contender for the title Sarith Bandara from Trinity College Kandy had to say about the competition.
As expected an all island schools spelling competition has brought together students of all communities from different parts of the island to compete in real friendly circumstances bonding some lasting friendships.
Rukshana Illukumbara from Gateway College Colombo said "it has been awesome to interact with students from other districts and cultures" and she never thought she would meet them, continuing to say "she loved the experience of meeting the kids though at times the spelling was torture".
The unity and opportunities is what even the other 8 competitors seemed to enjoy.
The spellers now seem to have gotten to know each other's strengths and weakness very well, they in fact know which contestant gives the hardest words to spell and those who can spell a word without breaking a sweat. In fact, Sarith Bandara from Trinity College who has created an impression on everyone following the competition never misspelled a word until last week's competition. When asked on what he thought about the fact that the remaining contestants were intimidated by him, he said "just because I can spell doesn't mean I'm going to give tough words". He continued to say that it is not a small feat to qualify to the Top 10 and that by now everyone is equipped to spell. When speaking on the competition he said he didn't expect some of the contestants in the previous weeks to get eliminated.
Competition officials decided to re-introduce the concept of the contestants providing a word of their choice to an opponent in the first round. This created quite a stir among the competitors. Manudhya from Hillwood College Kandy was first up and received her word, "Coypu" from contestant number 18, Kushani from Tangalle Balika Vidyalaya, which she misspelt. Next up was Fathima Rustha who received her word from Archana Perera from St.Peter's College, and said she was "dreading it!", however, the word was "Jujitsu" and she knew the word and even knew it had an alternate spelling. Rukshala, Rashidah, and Archana were the only other contestants who got the words given to them by their opponents' right. Even Sarith was stumped by the word he received from Fathima Rustha, "Jabot".
In the second round spellers were given the opportunity to select a word from a pool of 50 words, and the third round consisted of letters of the alphabet except of course the letters 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' as they had a limited number of words and each letter had a choice of 5 words.
At the end of the three rounds of words, Rukshala Illukkumbura from Gateway College Colombo was the only contestant who had got all three words given to her correct. Five contestants, namely, Fathima Rustha, Rashidah Hassan, Archana Perera, Kushani Kodippili Hettiarachchi and Sivapalan Chelvaniththilan got two words right. Nardhya Grero got only one word right. The seven of them automatically qualified to the next round.
Talking at the break on her experience in the competition, Kushani said she couldn't believe she came this far because when she saw the Spellmaster clip at the first stages of the competition she thought it was tough.
Three contestants were remaining, Manudhya, Fathima Shafana and Sarith, who misspelled all three words, to battle it out for one more spot to the Top 8. Manudhya who said she was taking the competition easy all this while but after the tie breakers she had to go through the past 2 weeks she's stressed out now. Her word was "Fecundity", except that she spelled the word "Fecandity".
Fathima Shafana spelled the word "Approbation" spot on securing her place; it was all up to Sarith who got the word "Conquistador" which he hit out of the ball park. This meant Fathima Shafana and Sarith had to go through a "Best of 3". Just before Fathima Shafana was to go up Manudhya was spotted encouraging Fathima Shafana, telling her not to worry when going up against Sarith, this act displayed the true meaning of sportsmanship and proved that these contestants, no matter how competitive, were still supporting each other.
Fathima Shafana was up first, for her luck the word she received was "Diarrhoea" and she spelt it without hesitation. "Ecclesiastical" was the word given to Sarith who spelt it "Ecclesistical", missing out on the "a". Both contestants got the second words given to them right, putting Fathima Shafana in the lead. It all depended on the third word; Fathima Shafana spelt "Dromedary" as "Dromedery", with all eyes on Sarith now, his word was "Extracorporeal" and he spelt it spot on. At the end of the "Best of 3" both of them were at a tie, and it all depended on the next word they received. At this moment even the audience and officials were on pins, both contestants being excellent spellers. The silence was deafening as a very shaky Fathima Shafana took the stage to spell her word "Equinoctial" which she spelt "Equinoxial". Sarith got the word "Adventitious" and spelt it right.
A very emotional and almost teary Fathima Shafana, when asked, said she had not referred the letter "D" in the dictionary much, which is why she was not sure of the spelling of "Dromedary". She continued to say that participation was more important, she made a lot of friends and it didn't matter that she didn't win, but hoped her school mate Fathima Rustha gets through to the top. Manudhya was cool about it and said it was "bound to happen sometime", it was hard luck she got all 3 words wrong, it wasn't that the words were hard that she was just nervous. Her advice to the audience was to refer the dictionary and not to do what she did, which was not referring the dictionary.
At this point of the competition even the officials are finding it difficult to remain calm as they've gotten to know these contestants and know that all of them are exceptional spellers and hate to see each of them bow out.
One of them even said she wished we could make the top 10 all the Spellmaster; however, there can be only one Spellmaster, but all the contestants who are part of this are winners for taking part and getting this far. Tune into Sirasa TV to catch the thrills and chills of Spellmaster every Saturday from 6 p.m. - 7 p.m.
The following are 8 remaining Spellers from the Top 20:
Fathima Rustha - Mahmud Ladies' College, Kalmunai
Rukshala Ilukkumbura - Gateway College, Colombo
Rashidah Hassan - Good Shepherd Convent, Kandy
Nardhya Grero - Lyceum International School, Nugegoda
Sarith Bandara - Trinity College, Kandy
Archana Perera - St. Peter's College, Colombo
Kushani Kodippili Hettiarachchi - H/Tangalle Balika Vidyalaya
- St. Patrick's College