THOMASVILLE — Rebekah Cornwall was born to be a ninja.
At just 10 months old, Rebekah was climbing up the ladder of her older brother’s bunk bed. And when she was just a year and half, her mother, Lora Cornwall, had to move her from a crib to a toddler bed because Rebekah wouldn’t stay in the crib. Cownwall was worried she was going to hurt herself climbing out, but she knew her little girl was going to be an athlete.
Growing up, Rebekah and her family watched "American Ninja Warrior," and she and fell in love. When she was 9, a friend at church told her about the new Ninja Gym in Thomasville, where Rebekah and her family live.
“When I touched the first obstacle, I knew this was it, this was what I was meant to do,” said Rebekah, now 13.
She began training at the Ninja Gym and soon was entering local ninja competitions and obstacle course competitions.
“She’s got a lot of first place medals,” her mom said.
The National Ninja League held its World Championship in Greensboro earlier this year, and Rebekah placed third in her age group. She was the first girl to get through stage one, and the crowd went wild, her mother said.
Rebekah had entered her videos in the competition for the first season of "American Ninja Warrior Junior" but wasn’t selected. She doubled down on her efforts and worked even harder between Season One and the application for Season Two.
Out of more than 11,000 kids, 200 were chosen to be on Season Two, including Rebekah.
Her qualifying performance aired March 27, and she'll appear on Friday night's episode.
“You have to show your true self with photos and videos,” Rebekah said. Judges want to see how well rounded the kids are, not just their athleticism. Rebekah sings at her church, Carolina Memorial Baptist in Thomasville, plays piano and ukulele and dances. Her name on the show is “The Singing Ninja”.
Ninja competitions have helped her on and off the course, Rebekah said.
“I know how to calm myself down and in life," she said. "I know just to take one obstacle at a time,” she said.
Lora Cornwall, her mother, said it can be hard to watch Rebekah do a sport where she could get hurt, but she trusts in her daughter's training and skills.
“There are times I have to hold my breath and say a lot of prayers because it can be scary,” seh said.
Cornwall is also Rebekah's loudest cheerleader out there. Rebekah said she heard her mother's voice above all the other at the National Ninja League championships.
When she found out she had made it to "American Ninja Warrior Junior," she was eager to tell her friends at church.
“My friends have my back,” Rebekah said. “Even if I fall on the first obstacle, they are supportive and pick me up until I am laughing again. They’ve helped me through the whole ninja journey.”
Rebekah and her mother also love how ninja competitors roots for each other and pushes each other to their limits.
“If your best is the best, then you place and that’s great, but we really all love each other. We don’t root against each other,” Rebekah said.
Rebekah said she believes her strength, speed and passion are what drives her.
“Don’t give up on your dreams,’ is what she always tells people,” her mom said. “If she fails, it just drives her harder.”