Sycamore middle schooler makes it to Ninja Warrior finals

December 21, 2018

SYCAMORE – City officials recognized a Sycamore Middle School boy who has advanced to the semifinals in the inaugural “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” a show with the same announcers as NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”

Daniel Martin, 13, watched video clips of himself competing in the 11- and 12-year-old bracket on the show and shots of him hanging out in Sycamore during Monday’s City Council meeting with his mother Jeanette, older sister, Susana, 14, and father, Steve.

Daniel talked to city officials about how he got involved in doing ninja warrior obstacles after he discovered the adult-aged version of the show after seeing a few TV commercials about it. He said he thought it was pretty cool and immediately wanted to get involved in the activity.

“I tried it the next day and started training, but I didn’t have any real obstacles,” Daniel said.

“American Ninja Warrior Junior” premiered Oct. 13 on Universal Kids, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s network for kids 12 and younger. Daniel said the show itself airs again in a couple of months, but that his next episode is scheduled for April 13, in which he will be in the top 16 in his age group.

About 200 children from across the U.S. competed head-to-head on courses within the show’s three age brackets: 9- and 10-year-olds; 11- and 12-year-olds; and 13- and 14-year-olds. Three final winners, one from each age bracket, will be named the first American Ninja Warrior Junior Champions. The Martins were told at least 6,000 kids submitted audition tapes for the show’s premiere.

Daniel said he wasn’t sure he would make it as far as he did in the competition.

“I didn’t really know how strong the other kids were going to be,” Daniel said.

Jeanette Martin said the family hosted a viewing party for the episode Daniel competed in.

“So that was kind of cool to see their reactions and friends and how many people that are there to support him that we had no idea would be there,” Jeanette Martin said.

Daniel said life has changed for him in the sense that sometimes people recognize him from the show, and he’s gotten more recognition from his peers at school – especially in gym class – but he doesn’t think the fame has gotten to his head. He said he will continue ninja training, and the end game is to eventually make it onto the original “American Ninja Warrior” show once he turns 19.

Sycamore Mayor Curt Lang presented Daniel a certificate of achievement from the city during the Monday meeting.

“The city of Sycamore has a new star,” Lang said.