Lori Anne Madison, 6, youngest contestant ever in Scripps National Spelling Bee
Lori Anne Madison is a precocious, fast-talking 6-year-old with one very notable accomplishment: she qualified to compete in the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee. She's set to be the youngest contestant in the competition's 87-year-old history.
"She's like a teenager in a six-year-old body," her mother, Sorina, told the Associated Press.
"Her brain, she understands things way ahead of her age."
The Lake Ridge, Virginia, home-schooled first-grader will compete against 277 other spellers, some more than twice her age (and size).
The previous youngest contestant was 8.
Madison has been reading since the age of two, swims competitively four times a week — she can keep up with 10-year-old boys — and recently won major awards in both swimming and math.
"Swimming helps because when you see all the practice, all the hard work when you go to a meet, it inspires you to do the same in spelling," she said.
Unlike many of her older spelling competitors, this little girl doesn't labour over a dictionary for hours a day. Madison prefers studying while jumping on a trampoline, with her mother calling out words for her to spell.
"I'm actually very active," Madison told The Washington Post. "I play a lot. You don't have to drill yourself 100 times a day."
Madison can spell all 1,500 words in the Prince William County spelling bee study guide. Her favourite word? "Sprachgefuhl," a German word meaning "love of language."
The spelling bee will take place today and tomorrow, featuring great spellers ages 6 to 15 from all 50 States, Canada, Ghana, China and Japan.
"I can't wait to meet other kids who love spelling and words," Madison said.