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Co-champion Sriram Hathwar's life after long journey to win Scripps National Spelling Bee

Posted at 1:27 PM, May 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-20 10:49:08-04

Seven years after he started, Sriram Hathwar is living the life of a Bee co-champion.

For Sriram, winning the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee with co-champ Ansun Sujoe was the end of a journey that defined nearly half of his life.

He first competed at the national level in 2008. Then 8-years-old, he was the youngest competitor in Bee history. When Sriram won last year, it was his fifth try.

“The Spelling Bee was a great part of my life but life’s been pretty busy still,” Sriram said.

Sriram credits the time management and work ethic that he learned from the Bee in helping him succeed elsewhere in life.

Though he no longer spells competitively, Sriram, 15, has a lot going on.

He attends Corning Painted Post High School in Painted Post, New York. There, he competes in debate, rhetoric and the trivia bowl Academic All Stars.

Sriram entered the Diamond Business Challenge with fellow Bee speller Shreyas Parab, where they pitched a software and app to help Bee spellers create words lists, called Spell For Success.

They won $7,500 in April for the idea.

Sriram, who wore glasses since kindergarten, said he aspires to become an ophthalmologist. He was recently invited to tour the prestigious Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia by the Chief of Ophthalmology there.

Both of his parents are doctors. His dad is a gastroenterologist and his mom an internist. But Sriram is still young and weighing his options.

“I have some time to think about my path. I just have a general idea,” he said.

Though he can’t compete in the Bee again, Sriram is still involved with spelling. He pronounced for the North South Foundation Spelling Bee and is supporting his brother Jairam, 12, who advanced to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

For this year’s spellers Sriram has this advice:

“The biggest thing is just be confident. When you’re not nervous and you feel very prepared you know you’ll do your best,” Sriram said. “Just be the best you can.”

The Bee preliminaries begin May 27 (ESPN3, 8 a.m. ET). The stakes raise on May 28 with the semifinals (ESPN2, 10 a.m. ET) and finals (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET). Follow all the Bee action on Twitter at @ScrippsBee.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.