As R.J. Roman stood on the start line for his Qualifying run of American Ninja Warrior season 12, he looked downright pissed off. R.J. glowered at the obstacles. He then launched into his run, tearing apart everything in his path. R.J. wasn’t tempted by the Mega Wall, instead sprinting up the Warped Wall for the fastest time of the night at 1:10.07.
It was a return to form for the Ninja who made it to Stage Three in season 11. Before R.J. headed off to the Power Tower to race against second place finisher Sean Bryan, he told us a little bit about how he was feeling and why he was mad at the course.
“I have Ben Melick, who is a known veteran, and then Jessica Helmer, who is a rookie (in my group). Although she’s a rookie, she has been training with me for the past two years. I was really excited for her to show what she could do. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to, but I’m grateful I have a chance to help her get another chance to show everyone.
There’s a lot of pressure on the course. Especially when you’re on the starting line for the first time. I think she might have just lost focus slightly. But, having the worst case scenario already in the past, the only way you can go is forward.
Ben barely missed the cut by like 0.4 seconds or something! Taking a couple years off, same thing for him. Everything is different. I always make the joke that he took two years off and I put two years on. He stopped right when I started, and right when I started the courses started to change. My first year, it started to get more technical. When he was around, it was a little more grip endurance. It was a little different from what he was used to.”
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**SPOILER ALERT** If you haven’t yet watched Episode 3 of @ninjawarrior, read no further!!! Yeah, that’s me. Eating it on the first obstacle. In my 2.5 years of training and competing, I’ve never failed a first obstacle, and I’ve certainly never failed shrinking steps. But I happened to do both… on the biggest platform of all… on national television. I was completely shocked, but mostly I was mortified. I felt like the whole world would laugh at me – that silly “bunny ninja” – and a ton of self-doubt just rushed into my head. Was I even strong enough to compete on this level? Would anyone ever take me seriously as an athlete? And then it happened… the absolutely EPIC Power Tower win by my coach and teammate @rjroams that brought me back to life. It was the most exciting showdown (in ANY sport) that I will probably ever witness. But after all the screaming cheers, hugs and fist-bumps, I found myself terrified of facing Semi-Finals. Thank God for RJ and @benmelickfit for coaching me through that moment. I really could not have asked for better teammates, and by now you've certainly seen how amazing and selfless RJ is as a mentor. We talked a lot about my physical ability vs my mental ability. The both of them have such strong mental games, which is exactly what I lacked at the starting line. There were so many people who seemed to believe in me... I just needed to find a way to believe that myself. I took the night to feel sad about what happened, but also to learn from my mistake and put it in perspective. I woke up the next morning ready to get back in the game. RJ and Ben coached me through some exercises to get my confidence back and to trust my skills. Improving one’s mental game takes time, but I didn’t have that luxury. I was going to have to dig deep and find a way to conquer my mental demons in a very short amount of time. Tune in to the rest of the season to see if I can do just that… ✌️❤️
“Right before I ran, what happened to Jessica really put me in the mood. I’m a little weird. I like to run angry. I’m sure you can tell by my face at the starting line. When Jessica fell, I viewed it as the course trying to hold her back. That’s not alright with me. She’s my friend. I don’t want anyone to hold her back. I attacked the course with a vengeance.
I just really want to make a name for myself. Going into this, I really did have a lot of hype. Everyone is kind of expecting me to do well now that they know what I’m capable of. But outside of the athletes and other Ninjas here, I still feel like people just see me as some rocker dude that doesn’t take it seriously.”
“I’m so excited to be with Sean Bryan on the Power Tower. He’s definitely one of the people I looked up to when I really started following the show. He was newer and he has just came out of nowhere. It’s really cool. It shows how far that I’ve come. I can come from the bottom and get right up there with the people that I think are the best. It’s very humbling. I’m very grateful.”
R.J.’s Power Tower run went in his favor. After a gusty final leap to the finishing platform, he claimed the win and will bring Ben and Jessica back into the game for the upcoming Semi-Finals!