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‘Xanthosis’ Crowns Alyssa The Spelling Queen

Bowler Alyssa Deanna Yazrin wanted to win the Singapore Sports School's Second Annual Spelling Bee contest "no matter what".

She had 13 other finalists to beat, including defending champion, synchronised swimmer Debbie Soh. But Alyssa was undaunted.

Her roommates and fellow bowlers Charmaine Chang and Sheana Ching also wanted her to win, and so, they helped her. Nightly, they tested her spelling from a distributed 500-word list. They also picked up random words from the dictionary to prepare her for the "mystery word" segment.

With her friends rooting for her, she couldn't let them down. And she didn't want to let herself down. So, when she went to visit relatives during the Hari Raya Adilfitri festive holidays, Alyssa brought along her word list to revise.

The morning of 29 August 2012 arrived and the 14 finalists traded blow for blow over the spelling of words such as "dysentery", "innuendo" and "vicissitude" until just two contestants remained on stage - Alyssa and Debbie.

"I was nervous. Debbie was the defending champion and I know she is a really good speller," said Alyssa. "I had prepared myself the best that I could. All I could do was take a deep breath and wait for the word - and hopefully, I could spell it correctly."

Debbie misspelled "Xanthosis".

"I knew that word. I remembered it from 'Akeelah and the Bee'. I just had to be careful..."

Taking her time, Alyssa correctly spelt "Xanthosis", which a medical term to describe the yellow discolouration of the skin from abnormal causes.

Alyssa broke out in a wide smile when the judges gave her the nod - and her bowling teammates screamed in delight.

Alyssa won a trophy and a book voucher. She says she can't wait to go to Kinokuniya Bookstore to buy herself a couple of books, which will definitely broaden her knowledge and expand her word bank.