Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NSTP, Datuk Abdul Jalil Hamid (nine from left) with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) RHB Foundation and Group Chief Communication Officer, RHB Banking Group, Norazzah Sulaiman (ten from left) and Group Editor New Straits Times, Yushaimi Maulud Yahaya (eleven from left) with the participants at launch of the RHB - NST National Spell It Right Challenge 2017 at Theatrette Lobby, Anjung Riong, Balai Berita NSTP. NSTP/SALHANI IBRAHIM

KUALA LUMPUR: The country's premier national spelling competition has not only grabbed the attention of students and teachers, but parents as well.

Diehard fan of the annual RHB-New Straits Times Spell-It-Right (SIR) Challenge, Gretchen Tang, 57, has traveled around the country for the past eight years to watch the preliminary round, state-level and national level challenges.

Tang, whose son is six-time SIR champion Kenneth Wu Min Jin, said their family are avid fans of the event, even after her son had completed secondary school.

"My husband and I are here today to show our support for the event, as well as to the parents and students who will be participating in the competition. It is going to be an exciting journey.

"Coming here to meet the parents and their children takes me down memory lane to when we used to bring our son to the spelling competitions," she said at the competition’s launch today.

Tang and her husband, Wu Swee Woo, spent the afternoon chatting with friends and people from the organising committee whom they had known from past SIR events.

She said her son is now pursuing his Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Science at the University of Tasmania, Australia.

"Kenneth is pursuing his studies overseas but he told me how he wished he could be here as he enjoys this competition very much.

"It was never about the prize money for him (Kenneth), he has a passion for this competition. Even after secondary school, he tutored several state champions for past SIR competitions."

Ong, who likened the yearly event to a “reunion”, said competitions as such had made their grow family closer.

"We went through ups and downs together. As parents, we need to give the support and encouragement that our children need."

She added that parents should help nurture the potential in their children by tapping into their talent.

"It is God's blessing and this is my way of giving back to society. Don't waste their talent, share it with the community."