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New Zealand Speller reaches Semifinals

New Zealand Speller reaches Semifinals

New Zealand Champion speller Kate Weir, a 13 year-old from Linwood College in Christchurch has just qualified for the 2007 Scripps Spelling Bee Semifinals.

"This is a huge achievement and I am on the verge of tears as it is so exciting," says Janet Lucas event manager of the New Zealand National Spelling Bee.

A New Zealand speller who qualified for the event in New Zealand has been represented at the Scripps National Spelling Bee for three years but this is the first time we have got to this stage.

To get to the Semifinals Kate had to get complete a 25 word multiple choice spelling test and correctly spell her first word on stage. The combined result from these two tests had to get more than 20 points out of a possible 28 to be among the top third of the 286 spellers who continue on.

"Getting into the Semifinals is extremely difficult as out of a pool of 286 spellers only 107 continue," says Janet

"This is a huge achievement for Kate as she has shown that she is up amongst the best in the world," says Janet.

Kate's word on stage was not without its drama. Her word was eeriness but three of the five judges heard her 'e's' as "a's". After a long pregnant pause Head Judge Mary Brooks asked for the tape to be replayed. After more consideration her word was accepted.

Mary told Kate after the round that because she had three e's in the word they could consistently hear the letter and they accepted it was her accent.

Kate has consistently spelt in a cool, calm manner in the New Zealand round of competitions but she admitted to being nervous this morning.

"My hands could not stop shaking on stage," she says.

Kate says just to get to the 80th Scripps National Spelling Bee was an achievement and she just wanted to do her best.

Her delight at making it to this stage was clear to all those around her.

The Semifinals start at 2pm and finish at 5pm Washington DC time.

"At this stage it is just amazing to be here says Janet and one does not want to look to far ahead but if Kate survives the next three hours she would return to the competition tomorrow. It is tomorrow's competition which is televised live.


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