Gokul plans return to spelling bee in 2015

Washington, D.C. (KSDK) -- The 7th grade Parkway West Middle School student who made it into the final three of the Scripps National Bee will make one final run at the title next year.

"That's what he's saying right now," says Venkatachalam Krishnan, the father of 13-year-old Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield.

"They're still all fast asleep," the spelling whiz's father said Friday morning.

Gokul advanced to the semifinals of the national bee in 2012 and 2013--finishing 10th and 19th, respectively.

This year, Gokul made into the group of 12 spellers that moved on to the finals.

Gokul spelled several hard words before a national audience on ESPN Thursday night.

The teen's a big fan of the Miami Heat and Lebron James.

Thursday night, the analysts working the bee compared Gokul to his basketball idol.

After Gokul correctly spelled the obscure word "pampootie," the ESPN analysts had the following exchange about the Chesterfield spelling whiz:

"What a competitor! He talks a lot about Lebron James and his focus under pressure, that word would have thrown a lot of the other spellers on stage tonight. He made it look easy."

"He's very experienced, he's learned that you just don't give up and ignore the cameras. That's experience for you."

In an odd twist not seen in 50 years at the bee, co-champions were crowned after Gokul was eliminated.

And if the competition seemed intense on TV, at the event, a party atmosphere ensued, according to Gokul's dad.

"There was a dinner at the Cadillac Ranch restaurant near the venue," Krishnan said. "All of the kids had ice cream and laughed, they are all friends."

Gokul was eliminated after he misspelled the adjective "Kierkegaardian," based on the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.

Gokul left out the first "e" in the word.

"I believe he had seen it before, I think it's one he had studied," said his father, although he could not be certain.

Gokul's mother, Sreepriya Vaidynathan, serves as Gokul's coach.

Gokul practices four hours a day on weekdays and six hours a day on weekends.

Kierkegaard's philosophy deals with the ideas of existentialism. And, according to online definition, Kierkegaard's philosophy "deals with the issues of how one lives as a 'single individual', giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking, and highlighting the importance of personal choice, hard work, dedication and commitment".


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