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I felt like crying but held it in - says Chaunté

Published:Thursday | May 26, 2016 | 5:39 PM
Jamaica's Chaunté Blackwood was eliminated in round five of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

After four difficult hours, 10 spellers are left in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Jamaica's Chaunté Blackwood was eliminated in round five.

The 13-year-old, speller 88 in the competition, misspelt the word "photophygous", which means 'preferring or thriving in shade'.

Also eliminated was Ghana's Afua Ansah.

The departures of Ansah and Blackwood mean there will be no international winner this year, as there was in 1998 when Jamaica's Jody-Anne Maxwell placed first in the competition.

“When I heard the bell indicating that I got the word wrong, the truth is I wasn’t surprised because somehow, I guess it’s the spelling intuition, I had a feeling that I was spelling the word wrong. When I walked off the stage I felt like crying but I held it in,” Blackwood told The Gleaner from her hotel room.

“My parents told me that they are proud of me and I am happy that I have their support,” she continued.

Spellers from Jamaica have been competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for 20 years.

Blackwood is coached by Hanif Brown, a former national champion who competed at Scripps in 2011 and a sixth-former at Ardenne High.

Brown took over coaching after the 2015 death of legendary award-winning coach The Reverend Glen Archer.

He had to leave the competition to take an exam today, which could not be rescheduled.

Rule Change

Scripps made some rule changes to make the competition more difficult, and it was evident in the first round this morning morning, when 24 of 45 spellers got their words wrong.

Two spellers made the top 10 for the second straight year - 13-year-old Sylvie Lamontagne of Lakewood, Colorado; and 13-year-old Snehaa Kumar of Folsom, California. But Tejas Muthusamy of Glen Allen, Virginia, who made the top 10 the last two years, was eliminated.

Two 11-year-olds made the top 10. Either would be the youngest winner on record.

The championship finals will be broadcast live on ESPN at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Jamaica time) tonight. The winner will receive more than US$45,000 in cash and prizes.