April 23, 2019
Eli “Baby Bell” is an American Ninja Warrior with type 1 diabetes. American Ninja Warrior is a US based TV competition show where athletes try to defeat the world’s toughest obstacle course. The course has a series of obstacles that challenge agility, speed, coordination and most of all, upper body strength. Eli was accepted as a competitor for this season. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11, Eli has never let challenges get in the way of his dreams. A part of his objective is to help raise awareness for his diabetes. This American Ninja Warrior will wear the IDF blue circle for type 1 diabetes (T1D).
“Diabetes has been a difficult part of everyday life ever since my diagnosis, but I haven’t let it get in the way of my training. It’s just like another obstacle and it’s made me stronger as a person and an athlete. I want to show all people with diabetes that nothing can stand in the way from achieving your dreams!”
The $1 million dollar grand prize, which goes to the person who completes the American Ninja course in the fastest time has only been awarded once. We got a chance to talk to Eli about training, the competition and life with type 1 diabetes.
When did you become interested in gymnastics and stunt performance?
I took recreational gymnastics classes from the time I was 4 years old to 16. Being in recreational (as opposed to competitive) gymnastics enabled me to gain a lot of the major skills in the sport. It also allowed me to branch off and try other similar disciplines. During this time, I discovered parkour, stunt performance, and obstacle course training.
What are some of the greatest barriers to your training and competition?
T1D is easily the biggest barrier to my training, but over the years I’ve been able to manage it well enough that it hasn’t held me back from anything. I train a lot these days. I go to the ninja warrior gym, rock climb, parkour/gymnastics and I run. During these activities I have to be really careful about my blood sugar going too low, and having hypoglycemia. When it comes to competition, my blood glucose tends to go high due to adrenaline. Running the course with a high blood glucose is the last thing I want to do. Because of the low and the high risks, I have to be constantly on top of my blood glucose and factor in all of the exercise or adrenaline/excitement.