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Kacy Catanzaro on the humbling reality of American Ninja Warrior fame

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The final segment of our two-part interview with the storied American Ninja Warrior.

Felicia Graham/NBC

Kacy Catanzaro’s most recent appearance on American Ninja Warrior included a pivotal moment for the iconic competitor.

In the San Antonio City Finals, Kacy carefully made her way down the course. She played to the audience, hyping them up to cheer for her. After navigating the Sky Hooks, the obstacle that had taken her out in the Qualifying round, she skittered across the Pipefitter.

Suddenly, she was at the foot of the Warped Wall. It was an exciting flashback to 2014 in Dallas, when Kacy became the first woman to complete the Wall, opening a floodgate of popularity for her, and advancing the status of female competitors on the show.

Now, she looked up at a new Warped Wall in San Antonio, one that was half a foot taller than her previous conquest. After a few deep breaths, she hurled herself towards the ramp, and quickly slid back down. Shaking it off, she tried again, with the same result. Down to her third and final try, Kacy bolted for the top, stretching as far as she could.

She crashed back down and the course turned red, signaling her disqualification. Kacy turned to the crowd and waved, accepting their cheers for her. Then she quietly stepped over to the darkened side of the course, away from the cameras and lights, and broke down into tears.

After a long moment, she steadied herself, and stepped back into view. The crowd burst into applause and Kacy gave a measured and calm interview to Kristine Leahy.

We had a chance to talk with Kacy after that night. In part one of our interview, we discussed her San Antonio Qualifying run. Now, with the City Finals behind us, we bring you part two, where Kacy delves into the pride and pressure wrapped up within being an inspiration to others and what was going through her mind during those Warped Wall attempts.

Ryan Tuttle/NBC

How did it feel realizing you'd get another shot at the course in City Finals?

KC: It was really awesome when I found out I made it to City Finals. I was bummed I went down early. I wanted to finish the course. Since it was kind of a silly mistake on the Sky Hooks, it wasn't that I wasn't strong enough, or I wasn't capable of it. It was a little slip up. I knew I wanted redemption on that. I knew that I wanted to finish the course. So to be able to get another shot at it in City Finals was really exciting. I haven't been to City Finals in a few seasons, so it was really awesome to get back there.

I got my redemption on the Sky Hooks, which was awesome. And I got past the Pipefitter, which was awesome. I haven't been standing at the bottom of that Warped Wall since the first time I made it up. Which is a couple years ago now.

When I got there, I was like "Oh my gosh. I am back at the Warped Wall. I'm here. This is where I wanted to be. It's right in front of me. I'm going to finish the course. I know I'm going to get up the Warped Wall. I'm going to finish this course.”

I honestly am not sure what happened. I know my first attempt wasn't a good attempt. I think it was in my head. All the pressure started kicking in. Sometimes that happens and it gets in the way of your technique, so I kind of ran AT the Wall too much. And I didn't really get a good attempt. It was kind of a waste of an attempt. Then I was like “Oh no, now I only have two attempts.”

I do the second attempt and I get a little bit closer. Then I'm like, “Oh no.” I really didn't want to get to my third attempt. I didn't want to be to the point where in my head I was like "If I don't make this, it's over.” And I was there.

I kind of had this mini freak out. This is my third try. I wasn't even that close on my second try. What's going to happen?

I just feel like I did the best I could. I gave it my all. I got my finger tips on the edge. I remember getting my finger tips on the Wall and I slid down it and I was like, “I don't want to get up. I'm just going to stay here. I can't believe I didn't just make it up the Warped Wall. That's my thing!”

I was the first woman to get up it. I know that this Wall is six inches taller. I haven't been up that Wall before. It doesn't sound like that much, but it's a good amount. I was getting the 14 foot Warped Wall with my finger tips. Every time I made it up, I wasn't flying over it. I was one-handing it, barely climbing up it. I knew that it would be challenging. If I had another attempt and that first attempt was better, I know I could have made it.

During your Warped Wall attempts there were three little girls who just kept screaming "You've got this, Kacy! You've got this!" What do those kinds of moments mean to you?

KC: I can't even describe it. It kind of goes both ways. They were screaming for me and I was like "Oh gosh, I need to do this for them. They're screaming. They want me to do it. I want to do it. I want to prove it to them."

But I feel like there are these big learning moments in both ways. If I'd made it up, they'd be stoked. And they'd be like “She made it! She's awesome! She can do anything!

They were still super excited even though I didn't make it. I have tears in my eyes. I’m doing my interview with Kristine. I'm tearing up. I'm super bummed. I'm having this upset moment and they're still right there going, "It's okay, Kacy! You were awesome! You did so great!"

They almost taught me, you know, don't be too hard on yourself. It kind of gave a moment where I could talk to them and say, "I'm bummed I didn't make it, but I'm going to keep working hard and I'm going to come back next year. I'm going to come back next time and get a little stronger and do it."

It's amazing to have that support and to realize that it's okay if you're not number one all the time. It doesn't mean that people are going to think that you're horrible or that people aren't going to support you anymore. I kind of have had to overcome that in the past few seasons. I think I'm finally getting to it.

Ryan Tuttle/NBC

What's the one thing you want people to take away and know about you from watching these two runs in San Antonio?

KC: I think that one would be to just realize the journey. I feel like I've had this kind of crazy journey through the years on American Ninja Warrior. I came in my first season and did pretty well. Second season just breaking boundaries. Made it up the Wall. Did all these amazing things. It was the best season of my life.

And to have those highs. People don't realize that you're real. They're like, "Oh she did this! She's unstoppable! She's amazing! She's number one! She's the best!" People don't realize that's not the case always.

I have bad moments. They've seen that now. It kind of makes me more real to them. She's not just number one all the time and she's the best and she's perfect. It's like, I had this awesome year and that's great, and I've had really bad seasons.

Just to realize THAT, that's life. You're going to be on top. Then you're going to be on the bottom. And then you're going to be way high and then you'll be in the middle, and then you're going to be in the dirt. That doesn't define you, and it also doesn't mean you can't accomplish those things. I had a bad season. I could have made it up the Warped Wall and been like "Alright, I'm done with this season. I'm going out on top."

Or I could have come back the next season and done bad and been like "Well I guess I suck now. I'm not going to do it anymore." It's kind of this in-between you have to find where you're not always going to be number one, and that's perfectly fine. That's normal.

We all go through roller coasters. I feel like my years on the show have really shown that roller coaster truth.

I'm just really hoping that this one is going to be a high year.

Ryan Tuttle/NBC

Kacy’s San Antonio run was strong enough to carry her through to the Las Vegas National Finals. Fans will have another chance to see the Ninja Warrior legend on the course this year.