The winner’s name of Canspell Regional Bee is spelled Li
By Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun March 5, 2011 6:32 PM
Matthew Li of Surrey’s Fraser Heights Secondary celebrates, March 5th,winning the Postmedia Canspell competition at Vancouver’s Chan Centre. Second place finisher, Gregory Sastrawidjaya (L) looks on.
Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG
When Matthew Li won The Vancouver Sun Canspell Regional Bee on Saturday after successfully spelling out the letters a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e, he spun around on stage performing a Tae Kwon Do move.
Li had plenty of reasons to be ecstatic. Not only did he win a trophy, $5,000 and a trip to compete at the Postmedia Canspell National Bee in Toronto on March 27, but this was his final chance to win.
Competing for the third year in a row, it was the Grade 8 student at Fraser Heights Secondary’s final year that he was eligible to attend the bee, which is restricted to students in grades 4 through 8.
Grinning from ear to ear, Li, 13, stood on stage after the competition with his proud parents Julie and Simon Li and performed a few more martial arts manoeuvres.
“Before the competition I was thinking ‘OK. if I win I will do a spin hook kick,” said Li, who recently earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
“Just reading the dictionary doesn’t get you very far,” he said. “There are goods lists and books like How To Spell Like a Champ — there’s a lot of good tips in that.”
Li’s mother beamed as she talked about her son winning the bee. “It is so wonderful we are just so proud of him,” she said.
Sastrawidjaya was disappointed after he stumbled on the difficult word gummiferous, but the brilliant speller said he was really happy to have made it as far as he did in the bee and plans to return next year for another shot at the title.
Last year’s winner Scott Xiao of Burnaby North Secondary, who also came in second at the national bee last year, made it to the final three but was eliminated after getting stumped on the Spanish word asado.
But not before he stunned the audience with his expert spelling of tough words like gnathion.
Li said he finds words like asado the most challenging because they don’t follow any rules.
“I was quizzing Scott during the break just for the heck of it and he can spell so many words derived from Latin and Greek — I mean he is so good — but the thing is when you end up with a word like asado it is very irregular and it’s too hard to guess.”
He said before he makes his way to Toronto for the national bee he’ll also have to study up on his Italian words with double consonants.
The winner of the national bee will compete June 1-2 at the Scripps in Washington, D.C.
At the start of the bee, 49 eager and nervous students were welcomed by Christopher Gaze, artistic director of Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach, while Sun editor-in-chief Patricia Graham gave each student a medal just for making the regional cut.
Some of the tricky words that led to spellers being eliminated were admiral, stipple, jute and taupe. Others included the native word succotash, the Japanese word mikado and French word manteau.
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