In Florida Hilton, thousands of miles away from the hubbub of Rio, young adults from around the world gathered for the annual Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships. They competed for gold, silver and bronze medals in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, and up to $7,500 in prize money.
Of course, it does feel like the Olympics except that this is miles away from Rio. At the end of the day, it was seventeen year old Ryan Catalfu that came out on top after series of rehearsals spending two hours a day practicing at home in North Carolina.
It all paid off this week when Catalfu stood in front of the cheering crowd, slipped a gold medal around his neck, and turned to beam at the cameras.
He was the world champion of Microsoft Powerpoint.
The competitors, ages 13 to 22, came from 50 countries around the world. Many wore matching team t-shirts and hoodies, with a few carried their country flags.
“Some call it the nerd Olympics,” said Craig Bushman, who has run the event for six years. Bushman is a marketing VP at Certiport, which puts on the event with Microsoft “I’d venture to say a lot of people who feel like they are experts would not pass this test.”
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“I was definitely not sure I was winning. I really really hoped I would win, but I was extremely nervous at the awards ceremony,” said Catalfu, who had to make a complex Power Point Presentation about a winery.
The soon to be high school senior says he has been using Office his “whole life” but only really got into the competitions two years ago after encouragement from teachers.
“Once I started, I got hooked on them,” said Catalfu. “I found it fun.”