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Many of the most successful contestants on American Ninja Warrior have sported compact physiques a la gymnasts and rock climbers. Rookie Jon “Giant” Alexis Jr. — who at 6′ 6″ stands a full foot higher than many of the sport’s stars — looks more suited for basketball than obstacle racing. Nonetheless, he dazzled the audience with the fastest time in completing the Orlando course.

Jon’s father also competed, and while he didn’t complete the course, looked like he could be formidable in the future. The elder Alexis has hopes of setting a historical precedent by one day having his entire family compete on ANW. Both father and son find creative ways to integrate ninja training in their security and mill jobs respectively.


In other news out of the ANW Orlando Qualifiers, Flip Rodriguez returned to the show after an early exit last season had him questioning his commitment to the sport.

American Ninja Warrior Flip Rodriguez unmasks in Orlando

Rodriguez wore one of his trademark black-and-white masks onto the starting platform, but removed it (and his t-shirt) before methodically navigating the course’s six obstacles.

The intensely-focused Rodriguez eschewed celebrating after ascending the warped wall, as he explained his goal is nothing less than the six buzzer taps required to claim the ultimate prize on Mt. Midoriyama.


Like Rodriguez, fellow-veteran Drew Drechsel approached the course with hyper concentration after an uncharacteristic slip up last year. Unlike Rodriguez, Drechsel added a insouciant backflip off of the Warped Wall before scaling the obstacle the second time around.

Look for both contestants to continue their comebacks in the City Finals a few weeks from now.