Nate Burkhalter showed some steely resolve on Stage Two of the American Ninja Warrior National Finals. Not only did he beat all the obstacles and become the first Ninja of the episode to advance to Stage Three, he did it while recovering from food poisoning and facing an obstacle that seriously injured him.
In his six seasons on the show, Nate has only made it to the National Finals as a competitor once, back in season eight. However, during season 10, he traveled to the National Finals to test the obstacles. During that, he severely injured his ankle and foot on the Swing Surfer. Working his way through recovery, he returned for season 11 and, after a strong showing in the very difficult Seattle/Tacoma City Finals, made his second National Finals appearance.
Nate made his mark on Stage One, exuberantly hitting the buzzer. But Stage Two brought a whole new set of challenges. Nate contracted food poisoning, which is bad enough without adding in the dehydrating heat of Vegas. Stage Two also included the Swing Surfer once again.
But those mental hurdles seem to have kept Nate focused on what needed to get done. He took breaks when he needed, but kept the clock in mind. Putting it all together, he’s off to Stage Three.
Before he ate whatever it was that he ate, Nate told us how excited he was to be back in Vegas and how he’s already met his goals for Vegas!
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or [buzzer or bust]! This was my 1st buzzer in 3 seasons, & it came when I needed it the most! ▪️Stage 1 - DomiNated ✔ I took an hour to really celebrate this victory (& the 6 years it took to get it), and then I put it behind me and turned my focus to the next round. ▪️Stage 2 - You're next This Monday night at 7 pm CST I take on the toughest challenge of my athletic career! I'm in the hunt to win the $1 million, but get hit with a strange sickness 10 hours before having to compete on stage 2. No sleep, puking for 8 straight hours (& losing it from the other end), severe cramps, no food, can't hold down fluids, and so weak I can barely stand... ☠ The only way to advance in the National Finals is to complete all the course obstacles and hit the buzzer under the time limit! My mind & body are exhausted, and if I make it through the 1st few obstacles, then I'll be staring down the same obstacle that destroyed my left ankle exactly 1 year before (while I was trying stage 2 in Vegas as a tester). I was overwhelmed. So what did I do?? I began to pray that Jesus would give me the strength to do what I came here to do, andthat my body would be strengthened! Then others began to pray for me! Tune in on NBC at 7 pm CST to see what happens! . . . #NoLimitsNate #ActiveFaithSports #IJNIP #Americanninjawarrior #ninjawarrior #anwnation #businesstravellife #espnnews #ActiveFaith @activefaithsports @anwnation
“So it’s been highs and lows. Made it to Vegas three years ago, and then missed it, just on the cusp for the past two years. So it’s been emotionally a bit of a wreck, especially when I’ve had some injuries with that as well.
City Finals is a mix of two things. I made it far enough fast enough to get to Vegas, which is like, ‘Come on, finally.’ It was so exciting. You got to be the last one of the night. So I knew what I had to do, so I had things a little bit more in my control. That was fun to be able to push it, meet those objectives. And then the flip side of that is I was bummed because I had a good opportunity to finish the course. In that case, be the only one to finish. And I thought I had the ability, and failed on the eighth obstacle. It’s a little frustrating because I think I had a little more in me there. But, like the rest of us, things mess up in real time. You got to adjust.
So I’ve got to take that learning right there and see how I finish strong in the right way.”
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| LEAP of FAITH - FAITH over FEAR | Facing this obstacle again tonight is/was a fearful flashback to last year's injury from testing it. Swipe for pics & video. Tonight at 7 on NBC! Also, come hop over to the @ninjawarrior page at 5 pm CST / 7 pm PST to join me on a live Q&A via that page! Bring any and all questions!
“I’m so happy (to be in Vegas). It’s a different feeling from three years ago, when I was rookie and a little bit overwhelmed. And the pressure of trying to handle that, and then ending up hurting myself versus now, where I feel not so much belonging here, but just feeling more comfortable. Knowing everyone, knowing a few of the producers and the competitors, and it’s like a reunion time. And so I feel good. I feel more confident in my ability and in the course.
This is an awesome experience, and I’m really glad to be here. I’m really excited. I’m really thankful. It’s obviously a blessing. People who deserve it more than me didn’t make it, so I want to be grateful for just having the chance to be back, and even seeing that dream come true after three years of not giving up and pushing and pushing. And then I’m here.”
“Well, ever since I saw Ninja several years ago, I was pretty sure that I could do Stage One and Stage Two. And ever since that point, I’ve never gotten the opportunity to. So I expect in myself the ability to complete Stage One and Stage Two, and do it well enough. That’s my expectation. Now, obviously, we don’t do as well as our expectations, but that’s what I’m hoping for and believing in and excited for this time, versus terrified for in the past. After that, it’s all bonus.”
Nate can relax. He’s already met his expectations. Now, he faces the “bonus” of Stage Three. We really hope he hit the electrolytes hard after everything he went through before Stage Two!