The Chatter

Ellicott City Kid Competes on ‘American Ninja Warrior Junior’

Look out for 11-year-old Raeya Linton on the Universal Kids show airing Feb. 22.

By Evan Greenberg | February 18, 2020, 2:27 pm

-Photo Courtesy of Universal Kids
The Chatter

Ellicott City Kid Competes on ‘American Ninja Warrior Junior’

Look out for 11-year-old Raeya Linton on the Universal Kids show airing Feb. 22.

By Evan Greenberg | February 18, 2020, 2:27 pm

-Photo Courtesy of Universal Kids

When Raeya Linton first began gymnastics classes five years ago, her instructors knew she was a natural. They immediately recognized her talent, and had her excelling on the bar within the first few tries.

It’s this innate ability that Linton, an 11-year-old Ellicott City native, hoped would suit her well as she tried out for American Ninja Warrior Junior, a children’s spinoff of the popular obstacle course challenge show which will premiere its second season this Saturday, February 22 at 7 p.m. on Universal Kids.

Submitting an audition tape in which she conquered obstacles and showcased her gymnastics skills, Linton, who currently trains at Universal Gymnastix in Reisterstown, was chosen out of 12,000 total applicants. In a statement, American Ninja Warrior Jr. executive producer Matt Cahoon said that casting Linton was a “no brainer.” She is set to compete on the premiere episode this weekend, and should she advance into the show’s later stages, she could win up to $15,000—the prize given to its champion—with lower increments for second through fourth place.

For Linton to make it to the show's finale, she would need to win one qualifying round and one quarterfinal round. The show has also introduced a wild card round, where a select few contestants will run the course again for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Linton first learned about the show by watching its first season on YouTube, and was encouraged by family friends to try out.

“I wanted to compete because I wanted to try something new,” she says. “It’s a way to have something different from gymnastics.”

American Ninja Warrior Junior is divided into three different age groups—9-10, 11-12, and 13-14—and one winner from each age group will square off later this summer in a finale championship round. Linton says she went into the competition without much traditional ninja preparation, but that her gymnastics training translated well onto the course—which demands dexterity, balance, and upper body strength.

“There is some muscle memory,” Linton says. “Everyone does ninja how I do gymnastics—I wasn’t thinking and just went for it.”

-Photo Courtesy of Universal Kids

When Linton’s episode airs this weekend, she’ll be making a little history of her own as the first person to compete with lipodystrophy, a condition in which the body is unable to produce and maintain healthy fat tissue. For Linton, it doesn’t present any physical limitations. She hopes that by appearing on TV she can show others with her condition that they can participate in anything they set their minds to.

“If they believe in me that I can do it,” Linton says, “then they can believe in themselves.”

After filming the show, Linton has since become more involved in the local ninja community. She has been to three different gyms, and currently trains at Kinetic Ninja Warrior in Bel Air. Regardless of how she fares, Linton is still eligible to return to American Ninja Warrior Junior for a few more years, and has every intention of doing so.

“I’m doing ninja competitions to get ready for the next season,” says Linton, who can’t disclose her result until after the episode airs. “I learned that you have to practice. I definitely see myself doing this long term.”




Meet The Author

Evan Greenberg is the digital editorial assistant for Baltimore magazine. A native of Atlanta, he works on digital initiatives and explores the how and why of what makes the people, places, and things of Baltimore tick.



You May Also Like


Arts & Culture

Five Local Makers to Support Right Now

We celebrate a sampling of local artists who’ve been cut off from their clientele by COVID-19.

The Chatter

The Womanist Reader Creates an Online Library of Black Literature

A Baltimore writer curates an evolving list of women writers for her women followers.

Arts District

Roundtable: With Many Funds Exhausted, What’s Next for the Arts Community?

Creative leaders gather to discuss artist relief, pivoting programming, and existing resources.


Arts District

Black Musicians Write the Soundtrack of the City

Consider these Baltimore artists essential listening.

MaxSpace

Movie Review: Palm Springs

'Groundhog Day' meets the rom-com, with winning results.

MaxSpace

Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee takes on Vietnam, in his inimitable way.

Connect With Us

Most Read


How These Surprise Quarantine ‘Flower Bombs’ Are Helping Families in Need: The paper-plate flowers have become a massive fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House.

Design for Distancing Competition Aims to Revive The Beauty of Public Spaces: Forward-thinking social-distancing structures could be built in the city as early as this month.

How the Orioles Are Preparing for a “Pandemic Season”: Staying apart is the new team bonding experience.

Amid The Economic Chaos, Downtown Partnership’s New President Has a Plan: Shelonda Stokes was just named president after serving in an interim leadership role.

Five Things to Know About Democratic Mayoral Nominee Brandon Scott: The 36-year-old City Council President rallies past Sheila Dixon to win Democratic mayoral primary.