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African American spelling bee champ makes history with flair

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The nation’s first African American winner has breezed to victory at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde of Harvey, Louisiana, didn’t show much stress on stage and only struggled with one word in Thursday’s finals. She is only the second Black champion in the bee’s 96-year history after Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998. Zaila described spelling as a side hobby, though she routinely practiced seven hours daily.

A basketball prodigy, she hopes to play in the WNBA and holds three Guinness world records for dribbling multiple balls simultaneously. Zaila leaped with excitement after spelling the winning word, “Murraya,” a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees.

 

Source: AP – All contents copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

 

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