‘American Ninja Warrior’: The Deaf Ninja Scores First Buzzer a Decade in the Making | Video

Kyle Schulze is finally victorious in the NBC competition show’s Season 16 premiere

“American Ninja Warrior” contestant Kyle Schulze, known as The Deaf Ninja, is making his dreams come true in the Season 16 premiere.

In an exclusive clip shared with TheWrap, Schulze finally achieves victory with his first buzzer after competing in the NBC show for eight years, from Seasons 9-16. Each time, Schulze, who has been deaf since birth due to congenital nerve damage, had lost his chance to compete after ending his qualifier runs without hitting the buzzer.

“I’ve been competing for ‘American Ninja Warrior’ for … this is my eighth year now, and still no buzzer,” Schulze says in the clip. “It’s been a long, long journey. Sometimes it makes me wonder, ‘Am I bad? Am I not good enough for this?’”

Despite his past hardships with making it through the qualifying round, Schulze doubled down on his determination to keep trying, saying, “I am still, in some way, helping lift up someone out there who’s watching.”

In addition to regularly teaching other Ninja competitors ASL, Schulze also travels across the country as a motivational speaker. In the new clip, Schulze is shown teaching a group of deaf children how to navigate a “Ninja”-esque terrain.

“We all live in a hearing world and we’re oftentimes told that deaf people can’t, but he is living proof that deaf people can and really proving that stigma wrong,” one of the students says.

In Season 16 preview, which premieres Monday, Schulze’s hard work pays off as he finally overcomes his fifth obstacle curse, which has been the source of his downfall in past seasons. Staring at the jawbreakers with the support of his community in person and virtually, Schulze’s journey comes full circle by hitting his first buzzer in just one minute and 55 seconds.

“This is what it feels like to be dry,” Schulze exclaimed after not falling into the water. You can watch the full clip, above.

“American Ninja Warrior” Season 16 premieres Monday, June 3 at 8-10 p.m. ET on NBC. The competition show will also air two specials, including a women’s championship on May 12 at 8 p.m. ET and a couples’ championship on May 27 at 8 p.m. ET.

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