Michelle “Flippy” Callanan and Alarna Haintz will put their strength to the test early next year when they take on the 2019 National Ninja League (NNL) World Championships.
Michelle, of Leopold, and Alarna, of Torquay, are among nine women from Victoria to qualify for the championships, which will be held in Connecticut USA from February 15 to 18.
The dynamic duo recently travelled to Perth to earn their spot in the championships, where Alarna finished fifth and Michelle in 12th position.
Michelle, a mum of two boys and owner of Paw Pacers in Leopold, said she found the time to train early in the mornings at “stupid-o’clock”, while Alarna has recently opened Peak Fitness and Nutrition in Torquay.
“Ever since I saw Kacy Catanzaro, the first woman to complete the course in American Ninja Warrior, I was like, that is for me,” Alarna said.
“I’ve been playing on obstacles for years, I love obstacle racing and I grew up as a gymnast.”
Alarna said a dream of hers was to travel as an athlete, so her qualifying round in Perth ticked that box straight away.
She said her next goal was to inspire young teenage girls to take up ninja.
“This is a sport for everyone and young girls should be inspired to take it up, and learn that no dream is too big,” she said.
Alarna said she loved ninja because it was fun and didn’t feel like she was training.
“I’m always so determined that I want to learn ‘that skill’ and it doesn’t have a start or finish time.”
The pair, who have both made it to the final stages of Australian Ninja Warrior, said they were looking forward to the NNL World Championships because they were about ability and skill, rather than a back story to entice television viewers.
“In Perth, at the ninja academy we had to be in the top 15 to qualify and it goes by the fastest and furthest, and you only get three and half minutes to complete it,”
Michelle said. “It’s not like Ninja Warrior, there are no stories, it’s just about the athletes.”
Michelle said ninja gave her some freedom away from issues of everyday life.
“Some people like to read a book or have a soak in the bath, but I’d prefer to be hanging and playing, that’s my fun situation and it clears my head,” she said.
Michelle said the ninja community was made up of some incredible people.
“It’s not like a competition, everyone cheers on everyone else – it’s you trying to achieve your best.”
The women will now train six days a week to prepare their bodies for the championships.
Michelle joked about the increase of ninja participants after a series of Australian Ninja Warrior had aired on television, which soon followed with a steep decline.
“You’ve got the people who sit on the couch and go, ‘oh yeah, I can do that’ but when they actually do it they realise how hard it is,” she said.
“We do make things look easy compared to what it actually takes, and that’s the biggest thing, it’s not just try the rings and have a go, you have to train for it.
“You are going to have lots of falls before you are going to achieve what you want to achieve.”
To help Michelle represent Australia, you can donate at gofundme.com/helpmichelle-go-to-ninja-worlds.