It must be that Viking blood.
So theorized American Ninja Warrior host Matt Iseman as Leif "Swedish Ninja" Sundberg dominated the NBC obstacle course show's latest episode, which aired Monday.
The 29-year-old native of Mahtomedi posted a time of 58.75 seconds, the first sub-minute run in recent history. Sundberg, who's working full time on his graduate degree at St. Kate's, didn't enter the Tacoma Dome with high expectations.
"The dream has kinda taken a backseat to studying," he says. "I’m trying to take it in as much as I can because it can’t last, but it’s been really fun."
You can tell he's having fun:
This season is Sundberg's third crack at American Ninja Warrior. He started training five years ago at an Anytime Fitness, and eventually gravitated toward a specialized ninja gym in Buffalo, Minnesota.
"I was a big fan of the show, but it’s something I never thought I’d be cut out for," says the 6-foot-2, 195-pound athlete. "It became more real, like: Maybe I could try out for the show."
These days, Sundberg trains at Edina's Obstacle Academy, which has produced several ANW competitors, but only on the weekends. He's mostly doing sit-ups and pull-ups while taking study breaks.
"I tell people I do pull-ups until my arms fall off," he says with a laugh.
What's next for the Swedish Ninja on this year's American Ninja Warrior? There are five other qualifier rounds like the one in Seattle-Tacoma, each with 100 contestants. Sundberg is among the 30 from his city who advanced to the next stage, where he'll run the same course, but with added obstacles. Twelve ninjas will eventually compete in Las Vegas for the $1 million grand prize.
Sundberg says his next episode will air in late July or early August. You can catch American Ninja Warrior on Mondays at 7 p.m.