They say "fortune favours the brave" and how well this holds for the Spellmaster Sarith Bandara from Trinity College Kandy. Not prepared for the competition, wakes up one rainy morning in Kandy and being asked to take part in the competition, Sarith thought he'll give it a shot never imagining he would end up as the Spellmaster.
Rated as the number one education programme in the island at present, the competition which started in September last year ended in the Grand Finale on Saturday with a high standard of spelling and extremely wonderful exposure of sportsmanship, in the programme which has now been branded as one of the greatest edutainment programmes to be aired in Sri Lanka. The competition started off with the talkative Rukshala from Gateway College, the shy Rashidah from Good Shepherd Convent Kandy, the passive Sarith from Trinity and the quiet Chelvaniththilan from St.Patrick's College Jaffna.
The competition itself was a nail biting one, not knowing who was going to qualify and leaving the audience in suspense. The 1st round of words was a rapid fire round, where contestants were given up to 2 minutes to spell as many words as possible. That round was a very close round, with Rukshala spelling 15 words correct, Rashidah getting 16 accurate, Sarith who was like a spelling machine overtook her by getting 17 spot on and then with a gap was Sivapalan who got 8 correct.
In the following round contestants got to select three words each from a pool of 50 words. Rukshala got all 3 words she selected correct, Rashidah and Sivapalan both spelt two words right and Sarith got only one word correct. The last round was that of categories. At this point the scores were 18 each to Rukshala, Rashidah and Sarith with Chelvan on 10.
Next the spellers were given the opportunity to pick 2 words from 4 categories, namely, Culture, Science, Business and Nature, but not allowed to pick the same category twice. Rukshala, Rashidah and Sarith all got both words they chose correct and Sivapalan got only one right. At the end of the first 3 rounds, Chelvaniththilan who seemed excited with the occasion was adjudged as the third runner-up in the competition having spelt 11 words right.This left the competition at a new high with Rukshala, Rashidah and Sarith all having got 20 words right.
The competition had to go on till one of them misspelt a word. After two more rounds of words Rukshala and Sarith both misspelt words, which meant Rashidah, who was just elated, qualifying to the next round and Rukshala and Sarith to battle it out to see who would qualify to fight for the title with Rashidah. Rukshala got the word "Histrionically" and spelt it "Hystrionically", Sarith's word was "Cyclamen" and he spelt it spot on.
Eyes were now all set on Sarith and Rashidah as they had to now battle it out in a best of five to determine who would be the Spellmaster. Both contestants were neck to neck getting the words thrown out to them correct, until Rashidah got the fourth word, "Weltanschauung", which she fumbled by missing out just two letters, Sarith spelt his fourth word "Recalcitrance" right. The pressure was on Rashidah to get the next word right or the competition would reach its end. She got the word "Eurhythmics" and just missed out the letter "h". In a total anticlimax Sarith, having been in the lead, was the winner and the Spellmaster 2010.
At the end of the competition a beaming Mr.Sendanayake, the Director English - Provincial English Coordinator Provincial from the Department of Education Central Province, who was extremely proud that both the first and second place went to Kandyans said "I have a great happiness in my heart because the majority and the most students came up to this programme from the Central province, I am really proud of my students, I am really proud of my teachers and other officers who got involved in this programme." He continued to thank CIMA and Sirasa for organising this competition in a new and exciting way.
Mr. Bradley Emerson, Regional Director South Asia and Middle East CIMA, on the competition said "It's not only about spellings, it's about giving the opportunity to all the citizens around the country, it's about seeing in the children what they have within them and making them believe that they can stand up in front of an audience and compete as an individual." Continuing to say, "To all those children and parents who have made this programme a successful one, an exciting one, I think you have discovered the true strength in each one of you and when you come out to the corporate world you will stand up and compete with anybody else. It's not about English , it's about building self confidence, it's about giving experience to all the kids around the country and making sure all our children stand up as one individual and fight the world."
Having a reputation for being focused and getting through everything he sets out on and excelling in his studies and various other curricular activities, it was evident that Sarith deserves the title of Spellmaster, when asked about his victory he said "I never thought it would happen, every competitor was equally good." He continued to thank his Principal, Vice Principal, teachers, friends and family for being there for him and being a source of strength to him.
Mr.Bandara, being modest, when asked before the competition what his son's chances of winning were had said he had a 25% chance .On his son's victory he said "the other contestants were equally good and it is luck that Sarith's holding this position now." He said about the programme "Spellmaster as indicated right at the beginning is very popular, I see the students and teachers and even my colleagues are talking about the competition and they are quite thrilled to spend an hour in front of the TV on Saturday afternoon to see this exciting episode of Spellmaster."
The shy and reserved Rashidah who is always full of emotion, when interviewed after the very first competition in Kandy said she was going to be the Spellmaster and was just two words away from the title but did extremely well in the finals, especially with the tongue twisting words she got.
Still happy to be in second place Rashidah said "I enjoyed taking part in the competition, it was fun and I got to meet a lot of people from all parts of the island and it was a very good experience."
She continued to say, "It was great to have my principal, English teacher and my friends here today and I don't think I would have come this far if it weren't for them." Her very proud father stated, "First and foremost the opportunity given to these youngsters by CIMA and of course Sirasa has been a great occasion for all these young schoolchildren, especially in the North where one of the contestants came from the North.
It was pleasing to see that all these people are being given exposure and I'm very happy that my daughter with all this competition came up to this because knowing her, she was such a reserved person but she's done a great job coming into this and ending as the runner up."
Sarith Bandara from Trinity College Kandy received a cash prize of Rs.100,000 along with a full scholarship of CIMA for classes and examinations from the sponsors Imperial College of Business Studies, a gift pack courtesy of CIMA, a laptop and his school Trinity College received a TV. First runner-up, Rashidah Hassan from Good Shepherd Convent Kandy received a cash prize of Rs.50,000 as well as a scholarship to study CIMA from the sponsors Imperial College of Business Studies, a gift pack courtesy of CIMA and a laptop.
Second runner-up Rukshala Illukkumbura from Gateway College Colombo received a cash prize of Rs.25,000 as well as a scholarship to study CIMA from the sponsors Imperial College of Business Studies, a gift pack courtesy of CIMA and a digital camera. The other 17 contestants were all recognised, and were given cash prizes and received scholarships to study CIMA from the sponsors Imperial College of Business Studies.