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Sujatha Gopalakrishnan with her son Anirudh (L)


By Rhiannon Riches
Assistant Editor


A Victorian optometrist’s nine-year-old son has won The Great Australian Spelling Bee premier on Network Ten.

Sujatha Gopalakrishnan‘s son, Anirudh, won a $50,000 education scholarship and $10,000 worth of goods for his school.

Ms Gopalakrishnan practises at Specsavers at Southland, Cheltenham and is a member of Optometry Victoria.

She said Anirudh, who is in grade five, loves spelling and started reading when he was two years old. ‘I often joke that when I was pregnant with him in my third year studying optometry at the University of Melbourne, I would read my textbooks to him,’ Ms Gopalakrishnan said.

She said she was very happy and proud of her son’s achievement and he remained ‘down to earth’ despite the media attention after winning the competition, including an interview on The Panel.

Ms Gopalakrishnan said she was on the set only for the final episode of The Great Australian Spelling Bee, filmed in Sydney.

Her colleague, Senthil Murugappa, from OPSM in Broken Hill, watched the program’s grand finale with his children.

‘Anirudh chose the human body as a topic during the show’s grand finale and was asked to spell various medical terms.

‘It just goes to show that optometrists can have a healthy work-life balance and their offspring can prosper and do well. I am truly inspired,’ he said.

Ms Gopalakrishnan and Mr Murugappa studied optometry at the same university in India.

The show’s grand finale aired on Network Ten on 8 September.

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