Season 12 of American Ninja Warrior has brought out the fight in Flip Rodriguez. Things are not coming easily, but the veteran Ninja keeps barreling ahead, refusing to dull his determination.
In the Qualifiers, Flip advanced although he fell on the fifth obstacle, Slingshot. In the Semi-Finals, Flip battled his way to the ninth obstacle, The Dungeon. He made it into the top 12, but he didn’t reach the buzzer. Sharing his very raw pain over losing his dog, Maui, Flip is working through this season without the casual success we’ve seen from him in the past.
Currently, after night one of the Finals, Flip is sitting in seventh place on the leaderboard after reaching the ninth obstacle again, Dragonback. Only the top eight Ninjas will move on to the Power Tower playoffs. We won’t know if this was the end of Flip’s season until next week’s episode. But before that happens, there are five things you should know about Flip’s season, right from his mouth.
1 - He prepared in only three and a half weeks.
“Absolutely no training has been happening since COVID, I will be 100% honest with you. The beginning of the year, being in Los Angeles, they shut us down sometime in March, and they were very strict on having anybody, outside of owners, in any store or business. So, I wasn’t allowed to do absolutely any training, and then when ANW called and they said, “Hey, we’re calling because we want you to be a part of the new season, and it’s going to happen very, very fast.” I was like, “Well, how fast are we talking?” They said, “About three and a half weeks.” I was like, “No way, I just ... Okay, great. I’ll be there.” And we just got to work. We came up with a schedule, we trained about three, four times a week together and we just went to work, you know?
2 - He’s relying on his experience.
“I think my motivation is being so unprepared and seeing what I can do being unprepared. I’ve never come into a season with only three and a half weeks of training, and now that I’m coming with three and a half weeks of training, it’s weird, it’s almost like less pressure because I didn’t put the work that I was supposed to. So I guess I’m not expecting the best results, so it’s kind of more lenient on my position.
This year is the most unprepared season I’ve ever been. It’s very intriguing because now I got to rely on my experience, all my training that I put over the years, in the sense of it’s like riding a bicycle, no matter how long you don’t ride a bicycle, you always know how. And just hope that I have the mental strength to bypass the pain and that little voice in your head saying you can’t do it.”
3 - He still has lofty goals for the year.
“My goal will always be to win it. I don’t do this sport to be okay with second place. I’ve put too much time and effort into training to be okay with anything but first place, or the championship, should I say? That’s always going to be the dream. So even if I win this, it’s not the full dream. It’s just a part of the dream, because climbing Stage Four will always be the dream.”
4 - He knows he has the speed to make it.
“Well, I think this format is going to be very exciting because now, even though I do agree that this format is leaning a little bit towards my side, there’s a lot of fast guys out there now. There’s a lot of fast people that, they’re doing what I was doing at 21. And they didn’t really have a reason to, because all you really need is a buzzer, right? So over the years, I’ve grown into the mentality of, let’s just hit the buzzer. Let’s secure a spot for Vegas. There’s no point in trying to prove that I’m the fastest when I know I could be. So now it’s a point where I have to be at least top 12 fast. And I don’t think I could be mentally okay with just being fast enough for 12th place, if that makes sense?
I think there’s going to be a great performance from everybody, regardless of the outcome. I think everyone’s going to give their best, and some will fall and some will succeed.”
5 - He knows you can’t have success without pain.
“On the other side of pain is success. So if you’re the one to run away from the pain as soon as you feel it, you’re not really doing the best program for yourself to become better. You’re kind of just putting a bandaid over it really, and not letting it fully get the full benefits of that workout. Pain teaches a lot and you grow a lot from pain. And with training, pain is something you have to face to get better.”
We’ll find out if Flip Rodriguez will remain in the top eight next week on the finale of American Ninja Warrior.