Murwillumbah teen to take on Ninja Warrior TV challenge
ONE of the Tweed's own will showcase his incredible skills on the hit show Ninja Warrior tomorrow night.
Dhani Johnson, 19, grew up in Murwillumbah and began his fitness journey by taking part in triathlons and training in the gruelling circus act known as aerial silks before he decided it was time to take on a new challenge.
"I was thinking, 'What's next?' and the first thing that came to mind was Tough Mudder and those sort of Spartan events," Dhani said.
"I do a project with AIME that mentors Aboriginal kids through high school, and one of the guest speakers really inspired me, so I said 'Screw Tough Mudder, lets go one further and try Ninja Warrior'."
Known as the "Gumtree Ninja" thanks to his grandfather Wally Johnson's famous song A Home Among the Gumtrees, Dhani took part in three months of solid training, despite having a torn hamstring.
His training included rock climbing in Tweed Heads and scaling a warped wall at a ninja gym at Byron Bay.
"The rock climbing helped develop my grip, strength and stamina, and to get more specific training with the obstacles I went to Ninja Play in Byron Bay," Dhani said.
"My core strength was already developed as I've done a lot of circus, more specifically aerial silks which has two bits of fabric that come from the ceiling and you use your bodyweight to perform different movements."
As part of his application for Ninja Warrior, Dhani had to prove he could hold a bodyweight plank for five minutes.
At the time, he could only last a minute and a half.
"That was one of the most challenging things I had to do, I had to get up to five minutes in a month," Dhani said.
In his application video for the show, Dhani said he wanted to show the importance of his Aboriginal heritage.
"I really wanted to connect with my indigenous heritage, the importance of culture and connecting with the land," he said.
"In my videos, I was sprinting across river rocks which really helped with a lot of the obstacles on the course, I also had a video of me in a tree doing circus stuff."
Dhani said his friends were all extremely excited to watch the show on Sunday, after he had to hide the fact he was on the show until recently.
"For a long time they knew something was going on but I couldn't say if I made it on the show, so when I could actually tell them they were very, very excited," he said.
After his Ninja Warrior experience, Dhani hopes to get into circus professionally.
"Silks is my passion and I want to make a living out of it," he said.
Dhani will feature on Channel Nine's Ninja Warrior at 7pm on Sunday.