On Friday morning, Fresno’s Ananya Vinay appeared on just about as many media outlets as her hero, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
Both had big nights Thursday, as Ananya won the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee and Curry’s team took the first step toward winning the National Basketball Association title.
Ananya, 12, won the hearts of America, as she outlasted Rohan Rajeev of Oklahoma in a marathon battle of incredible spellers. Over 21 championship rounds, the sixth-grader at Fugman School in Clovis Unified nailed every word.
And when she had secured the title, Ananya thought to give a shout-out to her favorite NBA star: “Go Curry.”
It was an intense time, as it appeared that both spellers could go all night. But when Rohan finally faltered, Ananya captured the prize, correctly spelling her final challenge, “marocain,” a French word for a ribbed dress fabric made of silk, rayon or wool.
This was an inspirational moment for the entire San Joaquin Valley. Ananya had already won three straight California spelling championships, and had become a regional favorite. Our hope is that other Valley school kids will see what’s possible and, just like Ananya, shoot for the stars.
Ananya’s key to victory was concentration: “I would see, hear and feel the word,” she told CBS This Morning.
We take special pride in Ananya’s victory. We sponsored her appearance in the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year and this year. There was not a Scripps competition in Fresno County until The Bee stepped forward.
Ananya is an incredible young person who volunteers to feed the hungry, and wants to make her community a better place to live. Her mother, Anupama Poliyedath, says Ananya is already making plans to work with other children on some kind of spelling project.
If she goes after this project with the intensity that brought her the national spelling championship, it will be a success.
And, as she still has two more years of eligibility in the spelling contest, we look forward to her defending her national title next year.
Just like her hero in the No. 30 Warriors jersey, Ananya has shown she can keep her focus under the bright lights on the big stage.