11-year-old Fresno boy to be in Scripps National Spelling Bee

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Complex words are elementary for 11-year-old Achuth Vinay of Fresno. He spells with ease and confidence.

Achuth is now putting his skills to the test against 209 contestants in this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee.

"It feels pretty exciting because it doesn't happen much," he said.

The gift of spelling runs in Achuth's family.

In 2017, his big sister, Ananya Vinay, was crowned the national spelling bee champ.

She's now has a new title -- coach.

"It is not just my legacy, it is something he is really interested in and enjoys doing," she said.

This year, the competition is changing. The week-long spelling bee will now span a month.

Because of the pandemic, contestants will compete virtually for the first three rounds.

The top 12 finalists will then compete in person.

There's also a new challenge this year -- in addition to spelling a word, contestants must properly identify its meaning.

"I am a little nervous about the word meaning rounds because it is a new feature," Acuth said.

But this isn't the Fugman Elementary student's first spelling bee.

In 2019, Achuth tied for 51st place.

He's a little nervous but with his family behind him, he's ready to be the last speller standing.

"Whatever he does is fine, but I'm sure he is going to try his best," says father Vinay Sreekumar.

The first round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee starts Saturday morning. The final takes place July 8.
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