“I’m one of those people who likes to set a lot of goals for myself and pushing myself to achieve those goals is I think my favorite part of sports,” he said in a recent conversation with 3News Senior Meteorologist Matt Wintz.
Honvou, who also placed third in his age group in the 3rd season of the show in 2021, says, his time in the spotlight has been a positive experience.
“I think it was good to represent my state and my city because not a lot of people know what’s here,” he said. “[Also,] I think it’s had a lot of spotlights around me, which I think is cool because there’s not a lot of ninja up here and it’s kind of an unknown sport… so it’s been just a wild ride.”
Today, Nathanael is still training, hoping that he’ll get a chance to compete on the adult version of the show, which will soon allow athletes as young as fifteen to compete. He’s also competing on the track, running competitively for University School, where he is a rising Eighth Grader.
“I think [the cross country season] was fun. I haven’t ran super competitively in a really long time, so it was a fun experience,” he said.
But before he was a school athlete or a ninja champ, Nathanael was just a kid who loved to run. His mom Aria recalls that his first official race was the DadsDay Run presented by Family Connections, a local nonprofit that provides parenting support, reading readiness, and social engagement for children and families in Cuyahoga County.
“It was one of the first competitive races that I ever ran when I was really young,” Nathanael recalled. “That’s kind of what I wanted because most of the races around here, they’re kind of fun runs, but I never like fun runs at all.”
This Father’s Day — Sunday, June 17th, marks the 21st annual race, but Executive Director Beth Darmstadter explains, it’s not only in celebration of dads.
“It’s called the DadsDay Run because it’s always annually on Father’s Day, but we serve all kinds of families, and some families have dads and granddads and some families have moms and grandmas, but it’s very focused on health and wellness, holistic wellness as families.”
Darmstadter says, they’re thrilled to have Nathanael there to help represent their mission.
“It’s just wonderful. He demonstrates how so much maturity actually for his age, but also he set a goal for himself and he achieved it,” she said. “We’re all about setting goals, whether your goal is a physical achievement or maybe it’s entering kindergarten ready to read, and then he’s just a role model for young people and families.”
“I’ll be like signing autographs, like a meet and greet,” Nathanael added. “You can ask me any burning questions you have about American Ninja Warrior or kind of just anything about me.”
If you’re interested in participating in the DadsDay Run, it’s not too late! You can find more information on how to sign up here.