Tuesday 21 January 2020

'Pushy' parents under fire after Rhea, 10, wins Child Genius competition

Richard Osman said the final of Child Genius 2016 was the 'greatest ever'
Richard Osman said the final of Child Genius 2016 was the 'greatest ever'

The parents of the 10-year-old schoolgirl crowned this year's Child Genius have been subjected to a backlash after her place in the final was secured by her mother.

Rhea, from west London, spelled the word "eleemosynary", to beat nine-year-old Saffy to the 2016 title.

She clinched her final spot when her mother Sonal - who gave up her job as an obstetrician to help educate Rhea - intervened in a previous round.

Sonal queried why an answer Rhea had given during her specialist subject round on Florence Nightingale, and the founder of modern nursing's influence on military and healthcare reform, had been deemed incorrect.

Independent adjudicator Olivia van der Werff agreed that the question had been too general and accepted Rhea's answer, giving her an extra point.

It meant that Rhea avoided a tie-break with Birmingham-born Stephen, going head-to-head with Saffy, from Egham in Surrey, in the final instead.

Viewers were left flabbergasted as the girls rapidly calculated sums such as "14 times 3, minus 16, times 3, divided by 2, plus 44", and answered questions on everything from the nationality of composer Gustav Holst to the year the American Constitution was approved by Congress.

Rhea was crowned winner when, with the pair on nine points each, she correctly spelled eleemosynary, meaning charitable.

A victorious Rhea said all the hard work had been worth it.

"It's meant getting up early, going to sleep late, studying," she said after four weeks of gruelling competition on the Channel 4 show.

"It just feels really, really great."

But her parents were criticised by viewers, who accused them of being pushy.

Gail Valentine ‏@GailsForceWins wrote on Twitter: "Rhea is such a smart young lady but her mother is shocking! This isn't about you..."

Charlotte Pullar ‏@charlielydiaxo added: "Rhea's parents are ridiculously pushy, poor kid."

Melia Windsor ‏@Nadalena wrote: "'You get one spelling wrong your fate could be sealed' ... Rhea's mum over the top."

Others rallied to the defence of the family, who moved to Britain from the US six years ago.

Michael Dickson ‏@MikeDickson added: "Idiots abusing Rhea's mum on Child Genius: All children, especially Rhea and Saffy, were incredible however her answer was correct!"

@TheLondonBird wrote: "Amount of people putting down the parents of Rhea (on) Child Genius is typical of the non-aspirational Brits! They were all amazing".

Simi @Its_SimiJ added: "Rhea's mum is proof that sometimes you really just have to go and push for what you want and you might just get it!"

Others criticised the show, hosted by Richard Osman.

Stephen Jones ‏@canonstevejones wrote: "Horrendous programme, just grotesque."

And @Coppice83 added: "At their age I was counting the freckles on my arm and doing a dot to dot!"

@StuartEFell wrote: "So who were the real winners, obviously not the children. What a farce."

PA Media

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