Former WNBA star Tamika Catchings to appear on 'American Ninja Warrior' this summer

Ryan YoungYahoo Sports Contributor
Three years after retiring from the WNBA, <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1128518/" data-ylk="slk:Tamika Catchings">Tamika Catchings</a> will appear on "American Ninja Warrior" next month. (AP/Jessica Hill)
Three years after retiring from the WNBA, Tamika Catchings will appear on "American Ninja Warrior" next month. (AP/Jessica Hill)

Tamika Catchings has accomplished a lot throughout her athletic career.

The 10-time WNBA All-Star led the Indiana Fever for 15 seasons after a successful four-year run under legendary coach Pat Summitt at Tennessee and won four Olympic gold medals before she retired from the league after the 2016 season.

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Now, three years removed from the league, Catchings is ready for her next challenge.

She’s going to be a contestant on “American Ninja Warrior.”

“In a sense, I wanted to see how well I could do,” Catchings said, via the Knoxville News Sentinel. “One of the things when I retired, people were like, ‘Aw man how are you going to get your competitiveness and competitive edge, and what are you going to do? ‘Cause I can't just see you not doing anything,’

“I just feel like every single year I've had another challenge put in front of me. And this was a challenge for this year, but ... it was awesome. I had a blast.”

Catchings’ qualifying run at the Baltimore regional, which was filmed in April, will air on July 1. The popular NBC show sends contestants through a multitude of physical challenges on an obstacle course of sorts while competing for the grand prize of $1 million. After making it out of a regional, contestants must advance through a city final before reaching the Las Vegas final, which is set to be filmed later this month.

The 39-year-old first ran through some “ninja” obstacles at her local gym in Indianapolis while training for a different mud run, per the News Sentinel, when another gym patron thought she’d be good on the show — which prompted her to apply.

After being accepted, Catchings started working out right away — focusing on her upper-body strength. While the former WNBA Rookie of the Year and league MVP is certainly athletic, she quickly learned that her grip strength wasn’t anywhere near strong enough to compete on the show.

“Even now, [my hands are] still peeling,” Catchings said, via the News Sentinel. “I'm trying to get my normal hands back. ... It's not going very well, but, yeah, just trying to get your finger strength and your hand strength and being able to hold yourself up.

“And when you advance to some of [the obstacles on] like the higher level, they are literally on their fingertips, and so for me, it was like, ‘OK, get my fingertips stronger, get my hands stronger, build my upper body strength.’”

Still, her background in sports, she said, certainly gave her a leg up on the obstacles.

Only time will tell, however, if Catchings has enough to become the next American Ninja Warrior and claim the grand prize in Las Vegas.

“I would definitely say that and just being able to kind of have — I mean I did soccer,” Catchings said, via the News Sentinel. “I did basketball, so being able to play sports in general definitely helped with being athletic enough to be able to go through the obstacles.”

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