Akash Vukoti from Texas was all set to appear for his first spelling bee competition. His hair was neatly combed clothes were pressed and he had practiced hard still uttering spellings and brimming with excitement. For finishing touches he put on his diaper before he takes on people twice his age. He was two and a half years old at the time.
Last year the now seven year old won billions of hearts when he became the youngest person to compete in the Scripps National Spell Bee the most reputed competition of its kind in US. Akash whose parents shifted to America from Nellore appeared on Steve Harvey’s hit TV show Little Big Shots for the third time earlier last week.
About how it all started Akash says “ I was about a year and a half when my uncle was feeding me and he spelt out the word spoon. The next day he asked me again. Without expecting me to repeat it but I remembered. I also used to be transfixed with the magnetic alphabets on our refrigerator and my parents noticed this talent in me.”
His talent has kept Akash’s parents DR Krishna and Chandrakala Vukoti on their toes. “ when he was three Akash and his sister Amrita became the youngest sibling members of MENSA an organization for people with high IQs. Since we are homeschooling him we have to constantly update ourselves to be able to teach him “ Dr Krishna adding that one of their concerns was that he would not have interactions with people his age. However Chandrakala says “ we get together with other kids who are home schooled for outings”.
As for his popularity Akash thanks Steve. “ Mr Harvey is an amazing person and he introduced me to the world. Now so many people know me. I feel great.” So how does he deal with all the fame? His father Dr Krishna says “ we always remind him that all this attention is temporary so we ask him to be friendly towards everybody”. Akash can even read and write Hindi and Telugu fluently.
Meanwhile his father adds “ there was this racial undertone to spell bee competitions. People would dislike Indian origin participants because they felt that they were being forced by their parents to study continuously. Akash has broken this misconception. He just practices for one hour a day and some more when the competitions are approaching. He can make anything humourous and both Steve and Jimmy Fallon have said that they see themselves in Akash”.