10-year-old Prince William Co. student on his way to being an American Ninja Warrior

Plenty of 10-year-olds like swinging on the monkey bars, but only a handful are capable of honing those skills enough to compete in a national fitness and obstacle course competition. One Prince William County, Virginia, student can count himself among the elite few.

River Oaks Elementary School fifth grader Gabriel Holder has become something of a hometown hero for the Prince William County Public School system by not only securing a spot on “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” but also by advancing past its first round and continuing his run for the championship slot.

Around 12,000 kids applied for the competition-style game show, but only 96 were ultimately selected to compete.

Getting onto the show was no accident: Holder set his sights on the show in 2019 — when he was just 7 years old. He has trained in taekwondo since he was 3, and began practicing his parkour skills at 5.

Holder trains at a “ninja gym” an hour and a half away from his home three days a week. The gym is laid out in a way that emulates the conditions found in the show. There, he is known as the “Math Ninja” for his love of mathematics.

He has already competed in ninja-style events around the country, so Holder is no stranger to the pressure of competition. Still, he said he needed to find his focus ahead of his appearance on the show.

“The weeks leading up to the show were teaching me how to keep myself calm,” Holder said. “I was really nervous even though I didn’t show it much. When you do ninja, you’re going to fail sometimes, so when l fail, l just get back up and keep going. I try to use this skill in life. If something happens, l might feel sad about it, but l will always push through.”

“American Ninja Warrior Junior” is currently in its third season and airs every Thursday on NBC’s Peacock TV app.

See Holder in action on his Instagram page:

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.


More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up