Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Sports Competition

Once upon a time, we wondered what would happen in an AFL vs NRL face-off, but it seemed impossible to make comparisons between different types of sports. That was until Australian Ninja Warrior entered the arena.

And while the Olympics and Commonwealth Games give our top athletes the chance to compete in their discipline alongside each other, we never expected to see so many (seemingly) super-humans take on the same sport and prove once and for all who is Australia’s greatest athlete.

Well wonder no more. Once Australian Ninja Warrior screened (with a season of just nine episodess), we were introduced to an eclectic group of 250 athletes, who irrespective of age, gender or physical mass all competed on the same course. And the country loved it. So much so that it dominated ratings, debuting with an audience of 1.68 million and peaking at more than three million viewers.

It’s easy to pitch Ninja Warrior as just ‘another’ entertainment show. Similar to Gladiators, we see people in lycra—and some with just as much personality and flair as the ‘90s icons—take on mammoth obstacles all in the name of ratings. But make no mistake, this is a real competition, one which only the best of the best all-round-athletes can conquer. 

The global franchise took 20 years to land in Australia, and with it a spate of Aussies have courageously taken on a series of obstacles that test their strength, agility, muscle, flexibility, stamina and perseverance. Oh, and did I mention that they have to do it all in the fastest time, and without falling into the water below?

“Each obstacle on its own can seem fairly simple,” says competitor and host of the NRL Footy Show Beau Ryan to Nine Coach. “But you throw so many of them together and when you’re halfway through, your upper body and your legs are screaming at you.”

Keen sports fans watched with interest as AFL Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney took on the bungee rope, and experienced the nostalgia of watching former Olympians including snowboarder Stephanie Magiros, and gymnasts Georgia Bonora and Olivia Vivian, show just how committed athletes are after retirement and between seasons.

But the best moments came when the everyday Australians took on the course. People like rockclimbing brothers Lee and Ben Cossey, and mum of two and personal trainer Tara who overcame postnatal depression by re-embracing fitness. 

And for everyone who watched the series and thought, “I could do that”, there’s good news—applications for Australian Ninja Warrior season 2 are now open. 

While there was only one winner on Australian Ninja Warrior, the stories of endurance and courage behind each competitor are what make it worth watching. Their ability to find purpose in their struggles is reminiscent of the verse that says, “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans chapter 5 verses 3 to 5).

Granted, most of us won’t be put through our physical paces like the ninja warriors, but when life feels like one big obstacle course, it’s nice to remember that, unlike the competitors, we always have a chance to get up and try again, and there’s a lot of hope in that.