Durban - FORGET about spelling the run-of-the-mill words, how about triskaidekaphobia, the fear or avoidance of the number 13.
That was just one of the 2000 complex words spelling whizz-kid Nikita Govender had to memorise, and for her efforts she won the national Master Spelling Bee competition in her age group.
The competition was held in Cape Town and Nikita, 14, of Lotusville, Verulam, competed against 29 children in the Honey Bees category for pupils in Grades 7 to 9. She won a medal, a certificate and R1500.
Nikita will compete in the international leg in Dubai next September.
The competition, started and run by businesswoman Nkateko Kaytee Mathebula, has three categories.
The other two are Bumble Bees for pupils in Grades 4 to 6, and Melittidae Bees for Grades 10 to 12.
Nikita, a Grade 9 pupil at Mountview Secondary School, said her English teacher, Tejeshni Govender, told her she was selected for the competition.
“I was surprised because I was not interested in memorising words. I prefer mathematics and science, but I decided to try. I won the regional round in June, the provincial round in August, and now the national round.”
Nikita was given 2000 words to learn before the regional round.
Some of the words included cardiothoracic, a word relating to the heart, chest or lungs; otorhinolaryngology, the study of diseases of the ear, nose and throat; and ophthalmologist, a specialist in the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of disorders and diseases of the eye.
“I memorised a select number of words a day. I then googled the words, so I could understand their meaning and how to pronounce them, and my family would test me.
“The national competition was tough. There were 20 rounds, and the children kept getting the words right, but by round 16, I was the last pupil left.”
Regardless of this, she had to complete all 20 rounds, with the winning word being petrophysicist, a person who studies, or is an expert in, petrophysics, the study of physical and chemical rock properties and its interactions with fluids.
Nikita, who enjoys drawing and reading, hopes to become a paediatrician.
“My paediatrician took care of me when I was sick, and I would like to do the same for children.”
Her mother, Daisy, said: “All of us are proud of Nikita for her diligence, hard work and commitment. All her efforts have paid off.”
Andile Ndawonde, a Grade 10 pupil also of Mountview Secondary, was selected to represent the school in the Melittidae Bees category.
The school principal, Nirri Sivjattan, said: “We are extremely proud of Nikita and Andile for being great ambassadors of KZN. We wish Nikita well as she prepares for her international participation.
“Mountview Secondary School has a proud history of supporting and encouraging our learners to participate at national and international levels.”