Richmond student spells his way to national championship

The word “chupacabra” was the winning ticket to the Spelling Bee of Canada’s national competition for a Richmond Secondary student.

Jason Chan was shocked and excited when he learned he won the Spelling Bee of Canada’s B.C. competition with the final words “chupacabra” and “isomorph.”

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“I didn’t really feel like I was prepared, but I managed to win and I would consider myself really lucky,” said Chan.

While the 14-year-old said his win was mainly luck, his past experiences in Math and English competitions prepared him well.

Chan told the Richmond News that he started practising for the regional competition last year, but because of COVID-19, the competition was set back and he “completely erased the thought” of the competition from his mind.

However, Spelling Bee of Canada reached out to Chan to tell him the competition will be taking place online -- and he had less than a week to prepare for it.

“Because I had less than a week to prepare, I started practicing like crazy again,” said Chan, adding that he practised like “it was (his) religion.”

“Every day and every spare minute of my time was spent practising.”

Even though the competition was held on Zoom, Chan said he was “shaking” the entire time since it was his first time at a spelling competition.

When he won, the first person he told was his mom.

“She was pretty excited … because she was the one who encouraged me to try it out,” he said.

“I think people should not be afraid to get out there and try some new things, even if you’re a little scared.”

Chan will compete in the national spelling bee competition at the end of November.

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