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Rookie Austin Gray was night one’s first finisher

Donating a kidney this year hasn’t slowed him down one bit.

Rookie Austin Gray has muscled his way to a heck of a first season. In Minneapolis, he moved into the City Finals, where he fell on the ninth obstacle, Iron Maiden. All this after donating a kidney shortly before.

When Austin ran in Minneapolis, it had been only a few months since his February surgery. He had a bit more time for the National Finals, but Austin told us his recovery has gone well.

“All the power I had is back. I feel just as strong as I was before surgery. I feel great. I probably didn’t do anything for the first four weeks (after surgery). Then I started hanging on bars and sort of ramping back up slowly. It probably took another five weeks after that to do Ninjas obstacles. Then at that point I was strong enough to start training hard.”

His kidney was donate to one of his best friends, Kaylee Adams, who has Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis. Kaylee stood on the sidelines, beaming with pride as her friend Austin took on Stage One.

On the Propeller Bar, Austin needed a second spin. As he grasped for the rope, we worried how this would affect his time.

Austin avoided becoming one of the Double Dipper’s victims.

He took big, confident steps and swings through Jeep Run.

The Warped Wall stopped his run in the Minneapolis Qualifiers and Austin made sure to show us that was just a fluke.

As a rookie who hadn’t faced a timed course yet this season, Austin was well on pace. He landed on the cargo net with a solid 45 seconds left to climb.

Hitting his first buzzer of the season must have been a catharsis for the 21-year-old.

Rocking his “Share your spare” tee-shirt, Austin celebrated the very well-deserved moment.

He’ll show us what he’s got on Stage Two on American Ninja Warrior’s September 10 finale!