Washington: Three Indian-American children were the only spellers left in the final championship round of the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee at a convention centre outside Washington Thursday night.

The three were among the nine who nailed words derived from Greek, Latin, French, German, Hawaiian and Afrikaans to make the finals as the field of 278 children was narrowed down after several intense rounds of spelling. Arvind Mahankali, 12, of Bayside Hills, New York, a finalist the last two years, made it three years in a row when he spelled "phrontistery".

A tennis player and aspiring physicist, Mahankali raised his arms in victory as he walked away from the microphone. Two other Indian-American finalists are Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego and Stuti Mishra, 14, of West Melbourne, Florida. Forty-one spellers, meanwhile, heard the dreaded bell that signals an incorrect spelling.

Those included one of the favorites, 10-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas. The younger sister of the 2009 champion got the only perfect score in the preliminary rounds. Breezily confident through the first two semifinal rounds, Shivashankar was flummoxed by "pejerrey", a small fish. She went with "perjere". Another Indian-American fifth-time competitor, Rahul Malayappan, also did not make the finals.

The finals did not include the youngest speller in bee history, six-year-old Lori Anne Madison of Lake Ridge, Virginia, who was eliminated during the preliminary rounds when she misspelled one of her two words -- "ingulvies" (the crop, or craw, of birds) -- and then fell short on her written test.

This year's winner gets USD 30,000 in cash, a trophy, a USD 2,500 savings bond, a USD 5,000 scholarship, USD 2,600 in reference works from the Encyclopedia Britannica and an online language course.

(Agencies)

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