Spelling Bee co-champ Jairam Hathwar’s brother Sriram was a co-champion in 2014.
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD: For Roopa and Jagadeesh Hathwar, the parents of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee co-champion Jairam Hathwar, it was their seventh trip to the Bee.
Prior to this week, they had made the trip from their Corning, NY, home to the Washington, DC, area during Bee week six times — five times with Jairam’s elder brother, Sriram, and last year with the current champion.
Sriram won the Bee in his fifth attempt in 2014. Like his younger sibling, he was also a co-champion.
For Jairam Hathwar, it took only two trips to repeat his brother’s feat. But Roopa Hathwar says the fact that Sriram was there to tutor and guide Jairam was a big factor in her second son’s success.
“Jairam also had Sriram’s expertise to help him,” she told The American Bazaar on Thursday night, just moments after her second son lifted the prestigious trophy.
“Sriram helped Jairam with the final words, that is all Sriram’s words, I could tell. I help him mostly with the basic words. I do the start work and the routine coaching is what I do and Sriram comes in with those big words, the championship words,” she added.
Hathwar said her son’s victory was “a fantastic moment for the whole family.” She added: “I am just beyond excited and I don’t have any words to express.”
Watch the interview with Jagdeesh Hathwar:
Hathwar also said her husband, Jagadeesh, helped their son “with the strategy, how to cope with all the stress.”
“Whenever Jairam was feeling stressed out, dad would take him out to golf and say let’s take a break and so it was a great team effort,” she said.
Jagdeesh said the whole Bee preparation is a five- to six-year process, which “involves a lot of effort and work and [one] can miss everything if you haven’t seen a single one little word.”
He said he told his son that the competition is “getting harder and harder and they are changing the rules and he needs to know the whole curriculum.”
He said he gave Jairam a plan on how to read a book from “A to Z” and “Z to A.”
Jagdeesh Hathwar continued: “When Sriram started quizzing [Jairam] and even with one read he was getting 60 percent to 70 percent right — that is amazing. Then from 70 percent, he went to 85 percent with the second read, that itself is superb. When he came 22nd [last year], he was about 75 percent… so I told him to give it another two or three readings and see what happens. By this time when he left the room he was he was 90-95 percent.”
Will the Hathwars come back again for the Bee?
Probably they will, says Roopa Hathwar, adding that she has a nephew in Virginia Beach, who is in fourth grade now. “[We] are trying to talk to him,” she said. “He is interested. He is into spellings too, so you never know.”
Watch the interview with Roopa Hathwar: