It took Yalini Prabhakar just 34 seconds to circle keywords from a list of over 300 words. “Last year, I lost after the first two rounds as I was slow in identifying words. This time my technique was to look for the first and last letter in a row and it did click,” said an excited Yalini, class VIII student of Bala Vidya Mandir, who won the first place at the Speed Reading Competition.

A total of 1,100 students from 120 schools in and around Chennai participated in the competition held at Chettinad Vidyashram on Wednesday. It was organised as part of The Hindu NIE (Newspaper in Education) initiative in association with Only Success Learning Technologies and presented by Chennai Institute of Technology. U. Neha of Nazareth Matriculation School, Avadi and B. Sai Vijayasree of Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Chinmaya Nagar stood second and third respectively.

Speaking on the importance of speed reading, chief guest and theatre actor and voiceover artiste P.C. Ramakrishna said it helps one prioritise one's reading such that one gets the gist of a book. He said that the President of the U.S. also goes through a speed reading course and it is essential.

“All through life one has to speed read so that you can assimilate things better, talk and write intelligently,” he said. But when you communicate ensure that it is “accurate, emphatic, dynamic and clear”, he added.

The day being a holiday, the competition generated a lot of excitement among students. Quite a number of students and their parents waited till the end to see the participants scan through words and numbers and to listen to the winning score of the finalists. A series of elimination rounds brought down the number of participants to 25 for the final rounds. Shortlisted students were performing the same task every round, but they said it was getting exciting. The repeated exercise by the organisers such as ‘Play to win, not to lose' did have effect on the contestants. As S. Tejas Sivam of AMM Matriculation Higher Secondary School, who felt happy and sad leaving the hall after being eliminated, said, “We don't have to win to become champions. We learn from failures.”

P. Sriram, chairman, Chennai Institute of Technology, Lakshmi Narayanan - Director, Sales and Marketing, Only Success Learning Technologies and N. Krishnan, Regional General Manager (Circulation), The Hindu, spoke. Grand Sweets and Snacks was the snack partner and Sabols the water partner for the competition.

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Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012

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