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Tidmarsh to Represent the U.S. in 'Spelling Wasp'
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WASHINGTON - 14-year-old David Tidmarsh of South Bend, Indiana correctly spelled "autochthonous", defeating Akshay Buddiga for the National Spelling Bee championship and securing his place in the International Spelling Wasp competition. "It's very happifying for me to have won, of course," Tidmarsh told reporters, "But I'm even more gratified at the prospect of representing my country against the world's best spellers." The 2004 competition will be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

"We are a relatively unknown faction in the spelling world."
-- Raleigh Combs, Wasp organizer
"Being international means we can't use any one language's words," explained Wasp organizer Raleigh Combs, "So I make up a hundred or so words every year for the competition. I try to spell them much like they sound, but I guess it does bring a certain element of randomness to the competition that might be turning people off." Each year, over 50,000 children enter the international spelling championship, yet, as Combs expressed it, "We are a relatively unknown faction in the spelling world. It was hoped that through the use of the stronger 'wasp' name, we could rise above the glamour of the regional spelling contests, but we've yet to reach penetration with the press."

Surprisingly, even some of the National Bee contestants did not realize there was another level of competition. Said runner up Buddiga, "Had I realized I might be traveling to Uzbekistan, I don't know that I would have entered the contest in the first place. Any place ending with -stan doesn't sound like the right place to be at the moment."

The Wasp winner will receive $17 and a scanned copy of an autograph of their favorite movie star, courtesy of "Our prizes are admittedly a little weak," admitted Combs, "But we don't have much in the way of corporate sponsorship. No one wants to sponsor an unknown, and no one knows you if you're not sponsored."

The Wasp will begin September 4th, 2004, and will be broadcast live on the Al-Jazeera network.
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