This word whiz is not your average 12-year-old

Aariz Salimee during the Qooco Asia Spelling Cup 2017, in which he won third place. — Picture by Qooco
Aariz Salimee during the Qooco Asia Spelling Cup 2017, in which he won third place. — Picture by Qooco

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — As most primary school pupils balance life and academic achievements, 12-year-old Aariz Salimee Ilhan Salimee has set his mind on performing better in every aspect of his academic and extra-curricular activities.

In his most recent accomplishment, he bagged third spot in a regional spelling bee. He beat 200,000 students from Indonesia, Thailand, China and Malaysia to qualify for the top 56 and compete in the final of the Qooco Asia Spelling Cup 2017 — the fourth spelling bee Aariz Salimee has taken part in since 2015.

“I love to read and I make it a point to read a book every night so that I can discover new words. That is how I improve myself for competitions,” said the Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Bintang Utara pupil.

“Sometimes I even browse through the dictionary to learn how to spell new words along with the meaning.” 

Aariz Salimee said the hardest word he has come across is “Scombridae” — a family of fishes.

A fan of the Harry Potter series of books, he is not only a bookworm but also proficient in mathematics, robotics, choral speaking and chess.

He also stays active physically by taking part in taekwondo and games such as table tennis, tennis and golf.

Aariz Salimee has competed at school level in most of these activities, and up to state level in chess and taekwondo.

At national level, he took part in the Malaysia International Mathematics Olympiad Competition and National Robotics Competition in 2015 and 2016.

“My daily routine is school in the morning and swimming, tennis or taekwondo after school,” he said.

“If I have a competition coming up, I would stay back to practise and prepare.” 

Aariz Salimee has no problem juggling his academic and other activities, thanks to time management.

He is not in a rush to decide what he wants to do in the future.

“I have yet to think what my future ambition is but I am set to continue my secondary school in the science stream. I hope to enrol in a good boarding school here in Malaysia,” the eldest of three siblings said.

“I am grateful that I have such supportive parents, teachers and friends who keep cheering me on.” 

His 10-year-old sister, Adeena Salimee, has also taken up an interest in spelling bees and competed in the same event.

“She wants to compete in spelling bees because she said she can spell better than me. It is healthy sibling competition,” he said with a laugh.

Aariz Salimee is now keen to learn Mandarin because of its popularity as well as for its complexity.

“It is not an easy language to master but I am up for the challenge,” he said.

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