COMMERCE — Damiyah Smith, a seventh-grader at Commerce Middle School, will appear on an episode of “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” which will premier Oct. 13 on Universal Kids Network.
Damiyah filmed her segment in July.
“We applied, online, in May 2018 thanks to a friend who tagged us in a Facebook post about it,” her mom, Kris, said. “Over 10,000 kids applied and less than 200 were cast. We had to submit videos, pictures, background info and she Skyped with casting, etc. What they found special about her is that she doesn't have Ninja Warrior training, so her powerlifting set apart from the rest of the athletes who are typically gymnasts, rock climbers or ninjas.”
Damiyah is a 32-time world champion power lifter.
She trained in Springfield, Missouri, twice a week with Season 5 ANW contestant Josh Cook.
“Josh did an amazing job to prepare her for any obstacle that might get thrown at her which was a true blessing because we, as her parents, have no clue on how to prepare her,” Kris said.
According to a press release, “’American Ninja Warrior Junior’ celebrates real kids taking on the iconic course with dedication and skill.”
Nearly 200 boy and girl Junior Ninjas from across the U.S. face off on the same head-to-head courses in three age brackets: 9 and 10, 11 and 12 and 13 and 14 year olds.
“American Ninja Warrior” is in its 10th season and airs on NBC and the NBC Sports Network.
Universal Kids is available on Cable One (channel 300 or 1300 HD), Bolt, DirecTV and Dish Network as well as On Demand and on the Universal Kids app.
The courses will feature iconic Ninja Warrior obstacles, including Sonic Swing, Tic Toc, Spin Cycle and the Warped Wall.
Each age bracket will be mentored by All Star Ninja mentors Kevin Bull, Drew Drechsel, Natalie Duran, Meagan Martin, Najee Richardson and Barclay Stockett.
Three final winners (one per age bracket) will be crowned the first-ever “American Ninja Warrior Junior” champions.
“At Universal Kids, we see kids as they see themselves and want to share their stories,” said Deirdre Brennan, general manager of Universal Kids in the press release. “’American Ninja Warrior Junior’ celebrates a kid-centric movement that everyone can be a part of and enjoy together. It will encourage and inspire all kids to push their limits and not shy away from challenges,” Brennan said.
Gold medal winning Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez will be co-host along with Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila.
“American Ninja Warrior” was nominated for three Emmys this year, including Outstanding Reality-Competition program, Outstanding Directing for a Reality program and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured or Competition Reality program.
The series is based on the global hit “Sasuke” from Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, which is now in its 35th season in Japan.
“It was a great experience and a Godsend actually,” Kris Smith said. “We have a passion for putting our area on the map in a positive way so this was a step in the right direction.”
The exact date when Damiyah's episode will air has not been announced.