A LARNE schoolboy has become a world spelling champion, after a record-breaking performance in an online competition.
Dylan Campbell, a nine-year-old pupil at Linn Primary, beat off 250,000 competitors from almost 200 countries to claim the top spot in the global contest.
The youngster was crowned best in the world in the eight to 10 age group, correctly spelling words such as stimulate and dinosaur. Not only did Dylan have to spell the words correctly, he also had to type them faster than anyone else.
The competition saw children from across the world take part in 100 60-second spelling games. The computer would ask each child to spell a word and then it was given to them in a sentence. But this was usually unnecessary, as Dylan often had the word typed the instant it was announced.
He said: “I was astounded to have won and was not expecting it at all. My friends have been congratulating me and I am so happy.”
While the result may have come as a surprise to Dylan, staff at the school always had faith that he could go far in the competition.
Principal Andrea Duff said: “When the competition started last Wednesday, Dylan asked me if he could win and I told him I really believed he could. As soon as it started, Dylan quickly climbed up the leader board and before long had claimed first place. As the day progressed he dropped slightly, but each time he returned to play he regained his position.
“It was an anxious wait from the moment when Dylan finished his last game on Thursday afternoon until the competition closed on Friday morning, with staff and pupils waiting with baited breath as the timer counted down the final seconds. When it was finally certain that he had beaten off any competition, the sound that came from the classroom can only be described euphoric. It has been fantastic to watch as a small boy’s big dream became reality, inspiring his classmates and other pupils to aim high.”
Amazingly, Dylan has never been taught to touch type and he has already surpassed the abilities of the school secretaries, managing an incredible 91 words per minute.
“I learned it from watching my sister,” he said. “Looking down her shoulder when she was typing really fast, I copied her and managed to get all the buttons and now I don’t look at the buttons anymore.”
Dylan’s classroom assistant Mandy Johnson said she was delighted for the youngster, adding: “We all knew he was a wee star but it’s great to have it recognised in this way. He has a reading age of 13 and can spell any word you throw at him almost instantly. Everyone at the school is so proud of him.”
To recognise his achievement, Dylan will receive a specially minted medal. He also hopes that his name will make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. “I won in the eight to 10 age category and I am only nine, so hopefully I can hold onto my title for another year,” he concluded.