Unprepared for the competition, Nazhad Farook participated thinking he'll give it a shot and found himself winning the title of "Spellmaster 2011".
Rated as the number one education programme in the island at present, the competition which started in October last year ended in the Grand Finale on Sunday 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 quirky Vasika from S.Thomas' College Mount Lavinia, the bold Nazhad from Trinity College Kandy, the quiet Nimeshi from Sanghamitta Balika Vidyalaya Galle and the passive Archana from St.Peter's College Colombo 4.
The competition itself was that of a nail biting one, not knowing who was going to qualify and leaving the audience in suspense. In the 1st round, the contestants had to select a word from a selection of 5 categories, namely, Science, Culture, Nature, Business and General; this was followed by the spellers providing a word of their choice to an opponent and finally the rapid fire round.
At the end of the 1st round, Vasika who seemed nervous with the occasion was adjudged as the third runner-up in the competition having spelled a total of 11 words right. Vasika, who performed superbly at the rapid fire in previous competitions, said his mind fell apart because there was no podium and this time around he lacked nerves.
This left the competition at a new high with Nazhad and Archana both spelling a total of 23 words right and Nimeshi with a total of 19 words.
In the 2nd round, the 3 remaining spellers had to select a word from a selection of 5 categories, namely, Science, Culture, Nature, Business and General, once more; this was followed by the students choosing a letter from the alphabet except of course the letters 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' as they had a limited number of words, from which a word was given and finally one more rapid fire round.
Whilst the scores were being tallied, Mr. Bradley Emerson - Regional Director South Asia, Middle East & North Africa CIMA, speaking at the event said, "this is an evening of culmination, culmination of two passions coming together, the passion of CIMA to give an opportunity to children across the country, the passion of Sirasa, MBC Network sharing the same thoughts to bring children of this country together. Sri Lanka is not Colombo, Sri Lanka is the entire country.
We were stunned when a student who stood up here and asked which page is that word from, to see how much photographic memory that child has developed, they just photograph the page and they know where the word is and then spell.
And we had another very exciting event where the child said that the word is not in the dictionary and he was right because we were taking the words off the CD and it was not in the book, they memorised the entire book. See the capacity of kids is different, when we grow up we limit ourselves, when we are kids we have no limits, there are no limits to dreams, no limits to beliefs so remain a kid and be successful."
Once the scores were revealed, it was established that Nimeshi was the 2nd runner-up with a total of 11 words. On being eliminated, she said "sad and happy, happy I got so far but sad she has to step down." She continued to thank everyone who helped her, leaving her mother and teacher in tears.
Nazhad had scored the highest in this round with a total of 20 words and following closely behind was Archana with a total of 19 words.
Eyes were now all set on Nazhad and Archana, who were relieved there was no rapid fire in the next round, 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 Archana got the fourth word, "Phosphorescence", which he fumbled by missing out just one letter. The pressure was on Nazhad to get the next word right for the competition to reach its end. Breathing hard, he knew he had to get the next word right to win the title; the outcome was in his hands. He got the word "Psittacosis" which he spelled calmly and confidently, spelled it accurately and was crowned the winner and the Spellmaster 2011.
Ms. Nedra Weerasinghe, Group Director - Electronic Media Business, Capital Maharaja Organisation Ltd., had this to say on the competition, "Spellmaster has given an opportunity to students from all walks of life to improve their knowledge in the English language and thereby given them the confidence to use the language that would give them access to a borderless world, this is one of the main reasons we tied up with CIMA, the Superbrand." Continuing she said that the students don't just acquire a monetary benefit out of the competition but also develops their self confidence.
Nazhad Farook from Trinity College Kandy received a cash prize of Rs.150,000 along with a full scholarship of CIMA for classes and examinations from the sponsors Imperial College of Business Studies, and a laptop. First runner-up, Archana Perera from St.Peter's College received a cash prize of Rs.100,000 as well as a scholarship to study CIMA from the sponsors Imperial College of Business Studies, and a laptop. Second runner-up Nimeshi Dissanayake from Sanghamitta Balika Vidyalaya Galle received a cash prize of Rs.85,000 as well as a scholarship to study CIMA from the sponsors Imperial College of Business Studies. 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.