WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Students from all 50 U.S. states and countries ranging from Japan to Ghana gathered in Washington last week for the 2010 National Spelling Bee, an annual event that challenges students to spell some of the toughest words in the English language.

The three-day event kicked off Wednesday with "serendipity," a word that had little to do with the hundreds of hours of hard work spent by the more than 270 competitors in preparation for their shot at becoming top speller.

It would take discipline and perseverance, not just good luck, to become champion and take home more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

Ten competitors advanced to the finals Friday, where they fought through a 1 1/2-hour contest that also included two Japanese words: "gyokuro," a high grade of green tea, and netsuke, a carved belt buckle for kimono.

The final word on the bee was tackled by Anamika Veeramani from Ohio, 14, who spelled "stromuhr" for the win after a rapid final round where the remaining five competitors were knocked out. The word refers to an instrument used to measure blood flow.

Although Sonia Ann Schlesinger, 14, the participant from Japan, did not make it to the finals, she was upbeat about the experience, saying, "I tied for 20th, and that's not that bad."

For Schlesinger, the bee was a chance to both catch up with old friends and best her performance from last year, when she was knocked out in the preliminary round of the national spelling bee contest.

"I studied more this year," she said. "Last year, I didn't really care how I did, I was just happy to be here."