'American Ninja Warrior' course no obstacle for Holderness' Abby Clark

By JOE DUBALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
July 10. 2018 8:59PM
Jenny Thompson Female Athlete of the Year award winner and athlete of the month winner Abby Clark of Holderness speaks at The Leaders - A Celebration of Sports Champions banquet held at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester in February 2016. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader File)

Abby Clark came, saw and conquered in her appearance on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” on Monday night. Clark, a Holderness native, offered something to marvel in her second appearance on the show as she was the lone female competitor to complete the obstacle course at the Minneapolis city qualifier, finishing in 5 minutes, 27.48 seconds.

The 24-year-old’s completion of the course qualified her for the Minneapolis city finals, which have already been taped and will air sometime in mid-August, according to Clark. A top-15 performance in the city finals would clinch Clark a spot in the national finals in Las Vegas.

“It’s still so hard to believe,” Clark said. “There were some really strong and successful women there competing, like Meagan Martin and Maggie Thorne. Those two are two strong ninjas that have done very well on the show before. I feel very fortunate, but I still have a hard time believing I was the only one to finish.”

Clark told the New Hampshire Union Leader before Monday’s episode that contestants do not know what the obstacle course will include, or when they will run it, until they are called to compete. She said her biggest concern about the Minneapolis course was a ring-jumping obstacle, which involves hopping up and down a pegged bar using a metal ring while dangling in mid-air. The ring obstacle knocked Clark out of contention in last year’s Cleveland qualifier. She put her worries aside in Minneapolis, though, and ripped through the obstacle with little issue.

“I had never seen the obstacle (in Cleveland) and really based what I did off what others were doing that night,” Clark said. “I’ve trained for it since and figured out a technique that worked for me while running it in a few courses during practices.

“Once I got up there, I felt more confident on that obstacle than a lot of the others. I wanted to beat it so bad and wasn’t thinking about if I didn’t make it.”

VIDEO - Abby Clark's full run can be viewed below:



Besides a quick trip-up and face-first slide at the end of a jumping obstacle, Clark mostly dominated each portion of the course. She said the biggest challenge was the “Work Wall,” a smoothed half-pipe skating ramp, which she scaled to reach the finish button.

“Going from one obstacle to the next, you’re getting more and more tired,” Clark said. “By the time I hit the fifth obstacle before the wall, my arms were completely done. It was really just about holding on as tight as I could before the wall, but then getting to the end, tired and out of breath, was rough. My arms just didn’t want to do it, but I held on.”

Clark is a Plymouth Regional High alumna and a former gymnastics star at Springfield College. Clark received the New Hampshire Union Leader Jenny Thompson Female Athlete of the Year Award for 2015 after winning the balance beam national title at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championship the same year.

jduball@unionleader.com


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