We’re going to give a theme week a try! Welcome to “First/Last Week.” Over the next five days, we’re going to explore some firsts and lasts for your favorite American Ninja Warrior competitors. To kick things off, we’re taking a look at Daniel Gil’s first run and his “last” run. (Last meaning most recent, because we know the season 12 champion isn’t done yet!)
Way back in 2015, American Ninja Warrior entered its seventh season and stopped in Houston for one of the Qualifying locations. There, we met a brand new rookie by the name of Daniel Gil, and well... Take a look.
Right out of the gate, Daniel made the course look easy. He trotted through this thing without breaking a sweat or needing a hair tie. Matt Iseman makes mention of Daniel’s girlfriend, Abby, on the sidelines. Of course, Abby is now Daniel’s wife. They also say that Daniel is an aspiring Opera singer and we’re curious if that’s still on the table for the Ninja after all these years of public Ninja success. Naturally, a lot of comments are made about Daniel’s hair. Five seasons later, we think Matt and Akbar have given up on that commentary angle.
The bottom line: Daniel went out there and announced his presence. He took the fastest time of the night and had our attention.
Daniel’s “last” run took place in season 12. He was part of the special pandemic season that holed up in St. Louis and used a different format. But it was a format that Daniel quickly mastered. He cleared the Qualifying course, the Semi-Finals course, and the Finals course. Firmly in the top eight, he needed to lean on a different set of skills to keep the success going. Daniel proved that he’s not only strong and fast, he’s also able to dominate the head-to-head competition.
In the Power Tower playoffs, Daniel faced Jesse Labreck, Adam Rayl, and finally, Austin Gray in the championship race. Watch that race right here.
Five years after he first stepped on the American Ninja Warrior course, Daniel became the season 12 champion. However, it wasn’t the National Finals win he wanted, and that is still a goal for him. As Daniel told us after his season 12 win, “I was still able to get the victory that I had hoped, but not under the circumstances that I was mentally prepared for. So I’m grateful for this victory, but you better believe I’m coming back for Mount Midoriyama, hopefully, next year.”
From day one, Daniel has proved that he’s a well-rounded athlete who’s prepared for the challenges of American Ninja Warrior. We don’t think it will take him another five years to get his shot at the National Finals title he’s craving.