Tuesday 12 July 2022

Maths Ninja Warrior

It was wonderful to watch Warwick Draper, Maths teacher at Ivanhoe Grammar School tackle giant obstacles in the 2022 Australian Ninja Warrior. This action-packed show saw Mr Draper make it all the way to the grand finale. This was not his first time on Australian Ninja Warrior having reached the semi-finals in season 1 where he splashed out on Obstacle 3, the Rolling Log.

Mr Draper may not have been able to finish the course but he performed well, his experience as an Olympic kayaker giving him an advantage. At 45 he was one of the oldest on the show, but managed to win against teenagers, showing that age is no barrier. He had a great run in the grand final but needed a bigger lache at the lightning bolts to stay in the competition.

Mr Draper gave us some insights into what it’s like to be a maths ninja warrior.

How many times have you been on Australian Ninja Warrior the TV series?

Twice. I competed in Season 1 back in 2017. I had also done course testing for a couple of seasons when I didn’t compete.

What first sparked your interest in the show?

What could be more fun than an adult-sized playground with crazy obstacles! Plus I thought my athletic skillset and competition experience would be well suited to the show.

What’s your training like in the lead-up to the competition?

I’ve done quite a lot of obstacle training over the past six years but actually hadn’t trained on Ninja obstacles for two years prior to this season. I’ve just focused a lot on upper body and grip strength and hoped for the best and it seems to be working out ok!

How did your kayaking experience help on Australian Ninja Warrior?

Skills I have taken from kayaking and applied to Ninja Warrior are competing under pressure, analysing a course prior to competing, and of course the fitness and upper body strength have helped a lot.

What is the best thing about being a Maths teacher?

I love problem-solving, so maths is an excellent outlet for that, and of course seeing that lightbulb moment when a student figures something out.

How do you use maths to help you compete in Australian Ninja Warrior?

Maths (and physics) help me to analyse obstacles and figure out the most efficient ways to complete them.

What year levels do you teach and how do you inspire your students in the classroom?

I teach years 7, 8 and 11, and I try to add problem-solving where possible to help students generalise what they have learnt and apply their skills to novel and interesting real-world problems (including Ninja Warrior obstacles!)

Who is your inspiration?

Bruce Lee, for being an innovator and encouraging everyone to adopt their own style of expressing themselves that works best for them.