by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville resident Maëlle DePape competed in Canadian Ninja League National Finals in Langley, B.C., over the Thanksgiving weekend, returning to town with first place in her age category, 11-12 Girls.
Ninja involves running a course of obstacles consisting primarily of upper body strength and balance. DePape has been in the sport since 2019, having tried several sports that didn’t fit. After seeing an advertisement to try out at a new ninja gym in Edmonton, DePape tried it the same day and has been active in it since.
Last July, DePape took fourth in the world for her age group at UNAA Worlds Ninja in Las Vegas.
This latest competition saw the young Morinville athlete move up the podium to the top after earning 11 points over ten obstacles and a time of 3:55:50. Her next closest competitor earned nine points, completing nine obstacles.
“It felt amazing. I ran three different courses. My first day was the strength course, second day was my speed course, and if I made top 10, I went to finals on the third day,” DePape told Morinville Online in an email interview Oct. 11.
Mother Melissa DePape said the family is proud of Maëlle’s sports accomplishments.
“Our whole family is so excited and proud of Maëlle. She has put in a lot of hard work and training. Maëlle competes alongside her dad,” Melissa DePape said. “So it makes a great bonding experience for them both. Her dad coached her for two of her runs, and he competed in the pro division and placed 6th.”
Preparing for Canadian Nationals, Maëlle DePape said she has been training three times a week.
“Training has picked up since summer ended. We have been practicing mock competitions and running races during training times,” DePape said. “I am also pretty active outside of Ninja. I do cheer in school and will also do a bit of conditioning on my own time.”
DePape plans to keep training but is unsure where the sport will take her.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I’d love to make my way to the American Ninja Warrior show, but they are not allowing Canadians to race,” she said. “So my main goal is to make it on the Canadian Olympic Ninja team. We are hearing that Ninja may be an Olympic sport my 2028. That is what I will be training for. That and worlds again in July in Florida.”
Mom Melissa encourages Ninja Sport for others.
“Everyone needs to try Ninja, even for fun,” she said. “It’s such a great sport that works on your core strength, upper body strength and your agility. Most importantly, it’s fun, fast-paced and very exciting to play and even watch.”