He's clearly become a young star among the "American Ninja Warrior" crowd, and in his mind he's only getting started.
Caiden Madzelan of Troutdale saw his quest for a top finish in the "American Ninja Warrior" finals fall short in Las Vegas — literally. He, like many others, couldn't negotiate the Vegas course's fifth obstacle, the tetherball, and his fall put him out of the competition.
His run wasn't shown during finals competition on KGW (8) TV on Monday night. (The actual competition took place in May, but the ninja finals were broadcast Monday and set to be shown Aug. 22 as well.)
Madzelan, a 17-year-old Reynolds High School senior, said while he was satisfied with his second consecutive "ANW" finals appearance, the finals run was "a tough pill to swallow."
He added: "When pushing off the wall, I started too low on the rope. This resulted in my legs being below the landing platform when I passed it. Nonetheless, I raised my legs up and threw myself at the platform. I landed with my body leaning backwards on the edge of the platform, and I went into the water."
Many other competitors also had trouble with the tetherball obstacle, his mother, Lisa Madzelan added.
Madzelan has been climbing the ranks in "American Ninja Warrior." He competed against adults in "ANW" for the first time last year, and made it to Vegas, and then bettered his qualifying and Los Angeles city finals finishes (fifth in both) to return to Vegas.
"A lot of sacrifices and discipline were put into this season in order for me to have the best results possible. I cut out what I wanted to be my first wrestling season, track and field, and I spent very little time with my friends in order to prepare for this season," he said. "Wake up, work out, go to school, come home, work out, eat, homework, and work out is what my life consisted of for three or four months.
"I felt as if the work paid off in the beginning of the season as I placed top-5 in qualifying and city finals, but to go out like that in Vegas was disappointing and has been a challenging learning experience. I say learning experience because it's only losing when you give up, and I'm not done."
He'll obviously want to be back to compete in "ANW" season 15 next year. In the meantime, he has other plans, such as a senior year to enjoy and a college to decide on. He'll be participating, as an invited athlete, in a ninja obstacle Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympics showcase in Indianapolis in October. It's being considered as a sport to be added to the L.A. Games.
"What an unbelievable journey. The ups. The downs. I'm grateful for it all," he said.
"I'm in love with this sport and I know I have more to give. Becoming a two-time national finalist is an honor, but I want more. I want more buzzers (meaning finishes). You haven't seen the best of me. I will continue to better myself and I will be back better than ever."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.