Kavya Shivashankar stole the hearts of Kansas Citians and the world when she won the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Well, get ready for Act 2.
Meet Vanya Shivashankar — Kavya's 4-foot tall little sister. The 8-year-old will be the youngest contestant at the 2010 Scripps bee, which starts Wednesday. It's Vanya's first time, but she's hardly a rookie.
The vivacious Olathe, Kan., youngster has been hamming it up in the Scripps bee crowd since she was 4. While Kavya was focused on stage, Vanya was her cheerleader and ambassador in the crowd.
"She was a social bee … making friends and talking to people," said Kavya, 14.
TV cameras often gravitated toward the little sister, who had a ball during breaks from the intense competition. A scrapbook photo shows the youngster being carried by a bee pronouncer one year.
But now it's Vanya's turn to shine on stage. And she is focused on her goal.
"I want to be just like my sister," Vanya said proudly with a smile that would melt even the most hardened adult.
As for her chances to win this year, the elementary student is realistic.
"It's a possibility, but no," Vanya said matter-of-factly.
Vanya is going to Washington with all intentions to win the bee, but she knows it's her first year and there are others with more experience. If she wins, the sisters would be the first siblings to win the top prize.
"I just want to try my best this year," said Vanya, who is sponsored by The Olathe News.
The 2010 Scripps spellers range in age from 8 to 15 years old, but 80 percent are between the ages of 12 and 14, according to Scripps. Many contestants will tower over the petite girl, who will enter the fourth grade at Regency Place Elementary in August.
"She's going to be so tiny. I don't know how she's going to reach the microphone," said her father, Mirle Shivashankar.
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