By day ‘Ninja Newton’, or ‘Laura’ to friends, family and colleagues, is a special education teacher at Pimpama State Secondary College on the Gold Coast, but on her own time, Newton is a national obstacle course superstar, who last year at the world titles in Canada was crowned the first ever world obstacle course racing short-course champion.
An avid fan of TV’s American Ninja Warrior, it was a no brainer for her to enter the local version (Australian Ninja Warrior) when it was advertised on Facebook last year.
Having made it through an extensive and through application process, Newton says the experience on the Nine Network hit show was brilliant.
“Walking out into that arena, the atmosphere was just incredible,” she says.
“You step up onto that stage just before you’re about to race and it’s intense.
“It’s like – you think you know what to expect, but when you’re there, you’re soaking in that atmosphere and then to refocus to race is pretty huge.”
Entrants have no prior knowledge of the course until they step out onto the entry gate, and so have to rely on their experience, strength, coordination and on-the-spot puzzle solving ability to advance to each stage.
“It’s just the not knowing and you only get one attempt, one shot at it,” she says.
“There’s so many people, and just the smallest mistake, that’s your race over.
Newton’s performance was outstanding. She advanced through some tough early challenges, but was eventually brought undone by a difficult task involving swinging off a mobile padded pole onto a sloped netting.
“I was unlucky on the net, but I was so excited to make it that far,” she says.
She says she would recommend anyone interested in entering to do so, ‘I loved it!’, and is thrilled that her efforts are inspiring students and fellow educators across the country to have a go.
“The biggest thing here at school at the moment is the kids are pumped, they all want to be ninjas, so I’m going to start doing some training at school.
“I said to the Grade 7s ‘yep, let’s go, we’ll get a group and we’ll start doing it once a week' - which is awesome, because it’s getting people active and that’s what we want for kids.”