Tonight, NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” took us to Miami, Florida for the city qualifying round. It was an exciting night full of surprises and inspiring stories.
The Miami course consisted of six obstacles: the Quintuple Steps, Downhill Pipe Drop (new), Dancing Stones (new), Jump Hang, Curtain Slider, and finally the infamous Warped Wall.
As always, it was a night of inspiring competitors, but tonight was extra special. Here are some of the their amazing stories:
Jorge Posada is a Cuban born fitness trainer. When he was only five years old, his parents brought him to the United States to start a new life. With twenty-five friends and family in the crowd, Posada fell off the rope swing on the Downhill Pipe Drop.
Andrew Mulryan is a special education instructor and also the mother of a son with a hearing disability. She showed strength and promise, but fell on the third Dancing Stone.
Shaun Murray is a world-famous professional wake boarder. It seemed he would make it through the course with no issues, but he failed to make it up the Warped Wall in three attempts.
Dr. Desiree Walker is a dentist and former fitness champion. She found a way to implement fitness into her work schedule by building a gym in her dental office. Unfortunately she fell on the Downhill Pipe Drop with quite the wipe-out.
Vincente King is an autistic college student. He showed great promise, but failed to get enough momentum on the curtain slider. It was still a very inspiring performance.
Melanie Hunt is a high school English teacher and also gymnastics coach. In her previous two attempts on ANW, she failed to make it past the second obstacle. Tonight she made it all the way to the Warped Wall, but failed to make it to the top.
Kavon Sadler is a freelance animator. Having been an ANW fan since he was a kid, he was thrilled at finally being on the course. He had an amazing run, and was the first finisher of the night.
Jonathan Ruiz is an Optometrist who helps his patients open their eyes to the world. He had a fantastic performance on the course, and made it up the Warped Wall flawlessly on his first attempt.
Robert Logan Sr. is a security expert and also known as “Ninja Dad”. He and his son camped out for five days in order to compete as walk-ons. He made it to the Warped Wall, but on the way up there was a painfully audible snap in his ankle. He held off from being taken to the hospital in order to watch his son, Robert Logan Jr. compete. The Ninja Son was able to also make it to the Warped Wall, but was unable to make it up in three attempts. Despite not making it to the top, their story was still beautiful just one day after Father’s Day.
William Brown, also known as “The Spartan”, definitely looks like he could have been cast in the movie “300”. He is actually a very serious competitor, completing the course flawlessly.
Olympic Luger Preston Lufall is also on active duty in the Army National Guard. That training paid off on the course, letting him cruise though with no problems. Of all the Olympic athletes who made an attempt at the course, Lufall was the first to make it to the top of the Warped Wall this season.
Clinton Taylor is a marketing consultant, and a truly selfless person. He donated 65% of his liver to his sister to help prolong her life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness in 2005. Before she passed in August 2013, she told her brother he would be perfect for ANW. He had a good run until he got to the Curtain Hang and couldn’t get the momentum to move to the second curtain.
Erick Hernandez serves and protects on the Miami S.W.A.T. team. He showed incredible perseverance, however he failed to make it past the Curtain Slider.
Stephen France made American Ninja Warrior history tonight. He is the first amputee to ever attempt the course. He was involved in an industrial accident and due to extreme pain, he made the difficult choice to amputate his left leg. Unfortunately he failed to grip the rope on the Downhill Pipe Drop. Nevertheless, he is truly inspiring, and I now have no excuse not to get up and go to the gym tomorrow.
Tod Bourgeois is a physical therapist who serves in third world countries and changes lives. He is here tonight after arriving back from Ecuador this morning. He showed no signs of jet lag however, making it up the Warped Wall and moving on to the city finals.
Idoko Abuh gained notoriety last season as a rookie, and is back this year to show it wasn’t a fluke. It surely wasn’t. He made it up the Warped Wall after a nearly flawless run.
Joyce Shahboz is a 42 year old physical therapist and the most highly anticipated female run of the night. She is hoping to be the third woman to make it up the Warped Wall this season. She made it to the Curtain Slider, but failed to gain the momentum to make it to the second curtain.
The friendly rivalry between Drew Dreschel and Flip Rodriguez (my personal favorite) has been brewing for years. Last year, Drew made it farther than Flip, but Flip is out for redemption this season.
Drew was up first. As usual, he ran through the course aiming for the top time. He completed the course in a breathtaking 44 seconds. Flip Rodriguez followed, ready to burst Drew’s bubble. Unfortunately he hit the water on the Jump Hang and was disqualified. Way to go Drew, but #teamflip!
There was an amazing 42 finishers in Miami tonight. Next week American Ninja Warrior heads to Denver, Colorado for the last city qualifying.
Watch American Ninja Warrior on NBC at 9/8c, and a replay on the Esquire Network on Tuesday.
What did you think of tonight’s both inspiring and shocking episode? Let me know below!