The first American Ninja Warrior Women’s Championship delivered exactly the kind of action we wanted from it, including a final race so thrilling that it’s bound to be a historic moment.
All 12 competitors put their hearts into every run, but veteran Meagan Martin was in her element in a way we haven’t seen in quite a few years. She cleared the Qualifying course, hitting her first buzzer since season eight. Meagan cleared the 10-obstacle course next, a huge accomplishment. In the Power Tower playoffs, she trusted her skills, soundly winning her match against Mady Howard.
But to get to the $50,000, Meagan would have to face Jesse Labreck on the Power Tower. Jesse was nearly unstoppable on the course all of season 12 and this special episode was no different. When Jesse tore off for a fast lead on the Power Tower, we thought it was over. But Meagan didn’t let the gap get to her. By pushing herself and making a bold final move, she found herself with her hand on the buzzer before Jesse.
You can find a full recap of the episode here.
Meagan Martin is our 2021 American Ninja Warrior Women’s Champion.
What makes this accomplishment even more impressive? This was all recorded in ONE day. Meagan ran two courses (that’s 16 obstacles) and two Power Tower races in the span of several hours.
We couldn’t have picked a more deserving competitor. Her work over the years has shaped expectations for women on the show. She’s inspired so many others to start their own Ninja journeys.
We had a chance to speak with her just one day after her triumphant success. Read on to find out how she mentally handled the competition and what it means for the seven-time competitor.
How do you physically feel right now after running all of those courses in that one day?
MM: I think I’m most sore in my glutes from the Spider Trap, especially because I was in there for a while because the top was pretty slippery and those doors are really heavy. But everything else is feeling a lot better. I made sure to move a bit yesterday, but we’ll see once I start warming up, but it was a lot of obstacles and races in one day.
I was watching you during the course walkthrough and rules. You were like a mama hen. Every time you noticed something on the course, you stopped and explained it to all the other women. What were you feeling in that group of women beforehand?
MM: I mean, honestly, it was just so nice for us to all be together, because for the most part we only get that when we’re in Vegas (for National Finals). So it was nice to be going through everything together and yeah, I just wanted it to be a fair playing field for everyone. So if I was noticing something, I just wanted to make sure we all knew what was happening. I feel like we all want to help each other out, so I was happy to do so.
How were you feeling that day? Your presence was so much more relaxed than I’ve seen you before, honestly.
MM: You know, I think it got more relaxed after I hit that first buzzer. I think that the fact that I haven’t been hitting buzzers in a bit had really gotten to my head. To a point where it was overwhelming and made me so nervous and then I would just keep messing up. So just getting that out of the way, I feel, made me more relaxed and also just... I’ve known these women for quite a few years now and I felt really comfortable and supported by them. And I think that really made it more fun and it made it feel lighter as well. I definitely felt more relaxed and was having way more fun.
What was going through your mind when you realized you were at the Spider Trap and you were going to take on the full 10 obstacles?
MM: When I got to the Spider Trap, all I could think was I have to do this. I am not giving up. I can’t give up here. All you have to do in that obstacle is just fight as hard as you can. For the most part, there’s nothing too finicky other than, I guess, the slipping a little bit, but compared to the other obstacles, it’s really just about fighting. And so I just had to make sure I finished. I could not let that slip through my fingertips. I just had to. So I was psyched I was able to pull it off.
What were your impressions of the Power Tower, because I can’t even look at that thing without getting anxious.
MM: I was so intimidated by the Power Tower. It’s funny because when they did the demo, I asked if the women who demo-ed could stop after the first steps, once they got to the top of the platform because I wanted to see how they did that and then be able to come around the side. I really had no idea how the Power Tower was working. And it’s overwhelmingly tall and it’s all about speed. It really took me back to Ninja vs. Ninja, that feeling of, “Oh you’re on a start line and you have to explode and everything’s happening so fast.” So you really have to have a plan in place. After the first one (race), I felt a little better, just having been on it, but yeah, it’s pretty intimidating.
What was your game plan for your championship round with Jesse Lebreck?
MM: My plan was just to try and move as quickly as I could. I knew that she would be really fast. She’s super strong, super explosive. She’s so fierce. I just knew I was going to have to lay it all out there in order to have a shot. And the other thing I really planned on was no matter if she is ahead of me at one point, it doesn’t matter. Just keep running and keep trying to catch up if that happens, because it’s not over till it’s over. Basically, that is what happened. I was able to somehow catch up and then get past and hit that buzzer. So I’m glad I had that plan of just sticking with it until the very, very end.
What does it mean to you that you hold the title of American Ninja Warrior’s first female champion?
MM: It’s honestly such an honor. These women are so strong and it’s just crazy how much the women have progressed in the seven years I’ve been on this show. I couldn’t think of a better, stronger, more supportive, and amazing group of women to be competing with. So it definitely means so much to me. And I’m so excited I got to experience it with all of them.