Wizolympics 2016: Brazilian Wizard Warrior Finals

The Brazilian Wizard Warrior finalists shed blood, sweat, and tears during their final obstacle course this morning. Amanda Nicolau of Brazil, Li Qiang of China, and Claudia Jacobs of South Africa all competed today for the honor of being named the Wizolympics’s first Brazilian Wizard Warrior.

Unlike many of the other finals rounds in the Wizolympics, the atmosphere was almost friendly when the competitors entered the arena. Being the top three, all of the finalists were guaranteed a medal; Brazilian, Chinese, and South African flags bedecked the stands and the obstacle course. Brazilian Gnome Toss competitor Claudio Santos could be seen haughtily staring down the arena from a few rows up, while Waitlifting’s Wang Ru of China seemed enthused for the day’s events.

The finalists entered the arena, and the crowd gave a hefty cheer, waving flags charmed to flash beams of colored light.  A few members of Nicolau’s sponsor, the Society for the Inclusion of Disabled Witches and Wizards, were waving an enormous banner featuring Nicolau waving to the crowd on a pair of glittering gold crutches, Galleon medal around her neck. After being introduced to the crowd, Qiang and Nicolau were quickly rushed away so Jacobs could begin her run for the Galleon.

Charle Pillay, captain of the Galleon-winning Sand Fortification team, was spotted wildly cheering in the front row for fellow South African Jacobs as she approached the first obstacle of the day, the Spider Screen. A thick forest of spider silk spanned from one platform to the next, atrocious arachnids guarding the key structural points of their web. Jacobs ignored the eight-eyed gaze of the spider guards and lumped a huge mass of the spider silk into one long rope. The silk wasn’t sticky enough to stop her from crossing it like a balance beam, but her shoes stuck a little, and she lost some time. Worse than that, an angry spider crawled after her and bit her leg just before she stepped onto the final platform.

Although it was rather green and gruesome, Jacobs’s injury didn’t stop her from conquering the Fish Ladder. At first, she seemed rather befuddled as to how to utilize the school of salmon swimming in the water, but then with a spark in her eye and a wave of her wand, the salmon were wriggling as they rose out of the water into a staircase formation. Quick feet helped her avoid falling as the fish fell back into the water once they were touched, and the crowd let out a great cheer when she reached the final obstacle.

The Warp Wall was a massive, shape-shifting platform that opened up, sloped down, and spun around without warning. Jacobs played it safe, waiting for a formation she would be able to run across, and rendered the obstacle immobile with a Freezing Charm. She finished with a smirk and a standing ovation from the crowd, coming in at four minutes and fifteen seconds.

To no one’s surprise, Li Qiang coasted through the first obstacle, avoiding the arachnids and the sticky silk by casting a Slippery Spell on the webs and carefully navigating across the slick strands. Qiang was on track to beat Jacobs’s time until his Olympic run met its end at the Fish Ladder. He Charmed the salmon into a large hovering raft that was supposed to deliver him to the other side, but he didn’t prepare for the possibility that the salmon would fall into the water once they had been touched. He managed to stay on the salmon raft long enough to try to leap for the platform, but he fell short, and his chance for the Galleon ended. After his fall, he told reporters,

You have to ask yourself, whenever you’re choosing a spell, does it prepare for all the possibilities? With the spiders in the first obstacle and the fish in the second one, I was just so focused on dealing with the creatures themselves I didn’t consider that they might be enchanted. I know what kinds of spellwork I’ll be studying between now and the next Wizolympics.

Brazilian Nicolau entranced the audience and the spiders on the first obstacle with a Synergy Spell; once she cast her spell, she beckoned the spiders over to her, and they carried her on their backs across the web. Like the other contestants, she was a bit befuddled by the pool of salmon but made quick work of turning the school into a giant wave; each fish that fell back into the water was sucked up into the wave, avoiding the danger of having the fishy floor drop out from underneath her. Only seconds behind Jacobs’s time, Brazilian supporters and Nicolau fans let out a mighty cheer. Even Claudio Santos perked up.

Nicolau knew she had to finish the final obstacle at record pace if she wanted to take home the Galleon. She didn’t spend any time strategizing. She took on the Warp Wall at top speed, weaving around suddenly appearing holes, propelling herself upward when the wall sloped down. Right as she was about to make it to the final platform, it shifted into a wall completely blocking her path. Without stopping to think, she cast the Reductor Curse, and it exploded into a thousand pieces. She took a leap of faith and made the six-foot jump to the final platform, crossing the finish line at exactly four minutes and twelve seconds.

After the medal ceremony, reporters asked Nicolau if her victory came as a surprise. She replied,

Surprise? No. An honor, yes, but I’ve been training for this moment for years, and I knew with just a little bit of luck, I’d be able to do it. No matter who you are, or what obstacles you face in life, if you train hard and face each day with courage, you can do anything you set your mind to. That’s what the Wizolympics has always been about.