Vance Walker Achieves 'Total Victory' over Cerebral Palsey, Mt. Midoriyama To Become American Ninja Warrior Champion
From the moment Walker took the stage during Qualifiers, it was clear he was a Season 15 frontrunner. The 18-year-old Ninja fell in love with ANW as a young kid and quickly became an American Ninja Warrior Junior superstar, winning the first two seasons. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, fans were instantly captivated by Walker's dedication to the sport and ceaseless passion for improvement.
It takes ferocious commitment to reach the peak of Mt. Midoriyama in under 30 seconds, but the gravity-defying Walker completed the climb in 26 seconds. Beyond impressive!
Walker's sky-high victory is the result of tireless training and a love for the ANW community. In an interview with NBC Insider, he opened up about his historic Season 15 experience. Read on, below.
NBC Insider: First and foremost, congratulations!
Vance Walker: Thank you.
We'd love to know about your American Ninja Warrior journey. When did you know you wanted to try out?
I first saw the show back in Season 6. It was [ANW veteran] Kevin Bull doing the backflip off of the Cannonball Alley at the Venice City Finals. I saw it eight, nine years ago, and I thought it would be the coolest thing ever to do that. I thought it was the most insane thing I'd ever seen. I was over at my friend's house, and we both looked up if there were any Ninja Warrior gyms near us, and there was one 10 minutes from our house. So we went there for a summer camp, started training, and fell in love with it.
I had [fellow S15 Ninja] Brett Simms as my coach. He taught me all of the basics of Ninja, and I just thought it was awesome. I immediately dropped everything I was doing. I told my parents, "This is what I want to do." And I won my first national championship within the first year of training. A couple of years later, American Ninja Warrior Junior came around, and I submitted for that. I got called, and I was able to win that. I won both seasons and thought it would be a long time until I'd be on American Ninja Warrior. But they lowered the age limit for us, so I have been on three seasons.
This season you were on a redemption tour after Season 14's "Mr. Perfect to Mr. Imperfect" run. How does it feel to go from all that anticipation to the peak of Mt. Midoriyama?
Yeah, so I won my first few seasons of Ninja Junior. I never lost a race. I never fell in the water. In Season 13, I came into Qualifiers at the Mega Wall buzzer, came into [Semi-Finals], and got first place in the Power Tower win. I cleared Stage 1, and then I went out on Stage 2. My first run, I had to use the Safety Pass, clear the second time, then went out on Stage 3, so I got out two courses in a row. And then, [in Season 14], I fell on every single course that I tried. I went from Mr. Perfect to Mr. Imperfect real quick. And I had those really good seasons and then a very disappointing one where I got pretty much everything wrong. I was able to learn from both of those.
I learned all the things that I did right in the past and all the things that I did wrong last season. And I was able to come in with a new mindset. I switched my training, moved down to Tampa, and started to train with the Bergstrom family. Started just doing everything differently and refocused on having fun and learning the basics of Ninja again. Instead of just being in it to win it. I think after getting accustomed to being perfect for so long, my mindset changed to, "I need to come in and win." And when that didn't happen, that was devastating, and I had to come back and switch to having fun and enjoying it again.