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Securing a spot on American Ninja Warrior has become tougher than ever with the competition started to gain traction in the mass media. In the 24 hours leading up to Monday’s season 7 premiere, feature stories appeared in both Rolling Stone and Esquire on-line magazines.

The ANW Venice Qualifiers lived up to its advance billing. A trio rookies stood out in a field replete with veterans, as they completed what turned out to be the most difficult qualifying round in the show’s history.


Before he could race on ANW, Alvaro Campos knew he would have to make a submission video that would stand out among the thousands of applications. His homage to kung fu flicks entitled The Legend of the Ninja Warrior took several months to create, but succeeded in securing him one of the coveted spots in Venice.

Campos made the most of his opportunity on the show. He became the first contestant to make it past the new Hourglass Drop and up the Warped Wall to complete the Venice Qualifier course in 1 minute 46 seconds.


Grant McCartney took the unlikeliest of routes to becoming a racer on ANW. The son of former LA Rams and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Ron McCartney, the air steward left home in Knox, Tennessee to catch waves, jump off cliffs, and swing on banyan tree vines in Hawaii. These skills translated nicely to the Venice course, as he became just the second contestant (and rookie) to successfully navigate the obstacles.

''Backflips with the cheerleaders at the high school out in the field, or skateboarding in an empty pool or jumping off a mountain butt naked into a snowy river. That's my son!''

— Ron McCartney, on son Grant to WBIR News

The #IslandNinja finished the course in a time of 2 minutes 35 seconds.


Nicholas Coolridge caught the bug for obstacle racing from ANW veteran and training partner Travis Brewer. The erstwhile construction worker left his hammer in the saw dust to pursue acrobatics full time and has since appeared in several television commercials.

Coolridge’s time of 1 minute 29 seconds made him the fastest rookie and second-fastest competitor overall of the six that completed the course. The fastest time — a blistering 56 seconds — belonged to veteran Kevin Bull who was the last to run.

Meanwhile, on Ninja Warrior UK, another stellar rookie will be competing in the show’s finale in a few days.