Army vet, Clemson grad draws inspiration from his late father to compete on 'American Ninja Warrior'

Verdale Benson served in the US Army as a second lieutenant and earned several honors (Source: Verdale Benson)
Verdale Benson served in the US Army as a second lieutenant and earned several honors (Source: Verdale Benson)

CLEMSON, SC (WIS) - Verdale Benson, a 38-year-old U.S. Army veteran and Clemson University alum will compete on NBC's American Ninja Warrior on Wednesday, June 6 at 8 p.m. for a chance to win the grand prize of $1 million.

"We all are faced with obstacles in life that we have to navigate over or around. Navigating a ninja course is simply a metaphor for the daily struggle and challenges we are all faced with," Benson comments.

After serving in the 25th Infantry Division as a medical platoon leader, medical company executive officer and battalion staff assistant operations officer, Benson was deployed to Afghanistan and then Iraq where he earned a Bronze Star for his service and left the Army as a captain.

He then earned his master's degree in medical science from Emory University and works as a physician assistant in Concord, CA.

Benson draws his inspiration, both athletically and mentally, from his late father, who passed away from kidney failure caused by diabetes and hypertension. After observing the weakened state his father eventually died, and Benson strives to remain physically fit and remain a role model for his two young sons.

In nine seasons of American Ninja Warrior, only two competitors have completed the course and won, and Benson has every intention of becoming the third.

The preparation for American Ninja Warrior is no joke, and Benson trains at least five days a week at a gym that caters to contestants on American Ninja Warrior with heavy weightlifting, calisthenics, rock climbing, cardio, and obstacle training.

"Having the dedication to prepare yourself or train mentally and physically for whatever obstacles you might encounter is the key to success to whatever aspect of life you want to focus on," Benson said. "The principle is the same for conquering life and the ANW stage: Do something every day to make yourself better and eventually you will be. It's guaranteed."

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