Sean Bryan got to experience something that only a very small handful of Ninjas will ever touch upon. He got to run a City Finals course with no repercussions. As the winner of the Speed Pass in the Seattle/Tacoma Qualifying round, it didn’t matter how far he made it in the City Finals. He was heading back to the National Finals no matter what.
While he could very well have just jumped in the water and gone for a swim on the first obstacle, Sean gave us a run to watch. He raced through the course, taking down the Lightning Bolts in about three jumps, and the Salmon Ladder in just two transfers. Sean looked to be on track for a second trip to the Power Tower when he fell on the eighth obstacle, the Floating Monkey Bars.
His strong performances came on the heels of his recovery from a badly broken ankle. In our conversation with Sean, which took place in Las Vegas, about 48 hours before he’d step up to Stage One, he revisited that special night in the Tacoma Dome and let us in on how his health was doing.
Taking on the course with no fear of failure
“City Finals was a bunch of fun. I had the Speed Pass, so all the pressure was off. Going up to the starting line, I still felt the normal jitters and maybe actually even a little bit higher.
But once I saluted like I usually do, it all goes away. Not only did it go away, but I was able to really enjoy the moment and not so much think of, ‘Focus, focus, focus.’ It was just, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do this, let’s do this.’ And it gave me a whole new competition experience where moving forward, I know I could shift my mentality that I usually have because I was able to actually perform a lot better than I expected to without overly focusing on my focus.
I’ve been training for that a little bit by trying to put myself in that mentality of being able to focus but also being able to really enjoy the moment. And my spiritual director actually has been encouraging me to really enjoy the moment. But I guess this forced me into that, and I’m able to take more confidence in that moving forward.”
“The eighth obstacle was in interesting one. The Floating Monkey Bars. Looking back on it, I know I could’ve probably locked off and bent my arms and gently placed it in there, but I wasn’t focused enough to think about that at that moment. So maybe the not focusing on focusing did have an effect. But I still enjoyed it. I made it to Vegas, and I’m looking forward to what’s next.”
Preparing for the National Finals with just days left
“At the moment it kind of just feels like an everyday thing. I’ve been training for this and planning, and this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m able to focus more on the competition than I am on all the lights, camera, and action surrounding it. So again, I’m able to enjoy it more.
I think one of my strengths is my power endurance, and another one of my strengths is the technical side of things. But if I had to choose one or the other, I would probably choose more technical over the power endurance because there’s really only so much my body could take, especially if I’m going for Stage Four. So I’m very much looking forward to the National Finals experience, and I think I have a real shot this year.”
Are all his injuries cleared up?
“I have all sorts of nagging injuries. When I fell in Seattle, I put myself back about three or four weeks in my recovery for my ankle. So that brings me here, which means I am not that much more recovered than I was in Seattle. In the meantime, I am building a gym. We moved it from one location to another, and I pretty badly strained my back. I was out of commission for almost a week, and that was about two weeks ago.
So right in the heart of when my training for this was supposed to be, I had to take a step back, which in the long run may have actually helped for some of my other nagging injuries. I’ve been pushing so hard to get back so fast because of my ankle injury, that tendonitis is flaring up, and all these other little issues are happening. Then on top of that, about a month ago, I strained both wrists while training. So that’s actually the injury that I’m most concerned about. On something like a Cliffhanger or anything that requires grip endurance, my wrists feel like they’re about to give out. There’s a lot of factors that I’m going to have to try and push aside during competition, but at the same time, I’m feeling ready for it.”
Summing up what he expects from this experience
“Overall expectation is really to continue what I’ve been doing and witness to the faith. I know that the Lord has gifted me with extraordinary abilities, and it’s meant to be seen. And at the same time, those abilities are in some way highlighting the faith and highlighting my experience as a Catholic. Bringing that into my daily life is something that all the faithful are supposed to do, bring their faith into the daily life. And that’s exactly what I expect from this competition -- be able to somehow witness that and witness the faith at the same time.”