ST. LOUIS (KSDK) – A 13-year-old from Chesterfield will compete as a finalist in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday night.
Gokul Venkatachalam made it through six rounds and has correctly spelled the following words: perestroika, nouveau, morbilli and coloque. He also performed well in the semifinals test, which is a computer-based exam for contestants.
He is among 12 finalists who will compete for the national title.
"We are all very excited," his father, Venkatachalam Krishnan told NewsChannel 5.
Gokul is a St. Louis Cardinals fan but has said that his first love was the Miami Heat of the NBA. The teen vowed to watch the Heat-Indiana Pacers playoff game on Wednesday night, despite a hectic schedule filled with additional spelling bee testing and events.
The Heat lost to the Pacers 93-90 in Game 5 of their series last night.
Did Gokul still watch the game?
"Oh yes," his father replied. "We both said, 'well, since the Heat lost, maybe if you make it to the bee finals, you won't feel so bad'."
Sitting in the audience, Gokul's father wasn't sure if his son, who practices spelling four hours each weekday and six hours per on the weekend, knew the words.
But he did.
Previously, Gokul has tied for 10th place in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee and tied for 19th in 2013.
The championship finals will air live Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.