University of Wisconsin junior Jack Kwan, 20, competed in NBC’s “The Titan Games” last month, making him the youngest competitor to participate in the athletic competition to date.
Kwan, a Chicago native and self-taught athlete, said being on a television show like the Titan Games has always been a goal of his.
“The Titan Games was the perfect show for me,” Kwan said. “Other shows like American Ninja Warrior did not really appeal to me. The Titan Games is a better show for well-rounded athletes.”
According to NBC’s website, “The Titan Games” is a large-scale physical competition series featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The competition gives everyday people the opportunity to test their athletic ability in head-to-head challenges and compete for the title of “Titan.”
Kwan explained the process he went through to get on the show. He said a friend of his encouraged him to apply online, and he was later contacted by a casting producer for a Skype interview. He was then flown out to Los Angeles for a tryout that consisted of athletic and screen tests.
Kwan said out of the 100,000 people who applied, only 100 were flown out to Los Angeles to try out. Of those 100 people, a mere 64 were chosen to be on the show, he said.
Following the tryouts, Kwan said waiting to hear if he had made it on the show was the hardest part.
“How much longer can I wait?” Kwan said, remembering the anticipation he felt during the weeks before he got the call.
The call eventually came, but Kwan said his excitement quickly turned into nerves as he realized the work he would have to put in to prepare for his television debut. He said he was aware of the pressure he would be under, and that he wanted to prepare as well as he could to ensure he did not “mess up” on live television.
During the time before filming started, Kwan said he trained his hardest. As his own coach, he pushed himself daily through cardio, strength and calisthenic workouts. He said he even went to the American Ninja Warrior course in Chicago to prepare.
To make more time for training, Kwan said he was encouraged by his parents to take his fall semester off at UW. As a kinesiology major, Kwan said he was apprehensive about doing so at first, but he knew it would be hard to balance training with his course load. By delaying his fall semester he was able to dedicate every day to training.
Kwan explained that when filming started in September, many of the competitors spent their time in California as if it were a vacation, but he was not there to make friends. The environment was stressful, especially once competitors started leaving the show.
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“I tried to maintain a zen state of mind and remind myself ‘you’ve made it this far,’” Kwan said.
When it came time to compete, Kwan won his first competition against competitor Chris Ruden on the Lunar Impact course, where he climbed a thirty-foot ladder in eight seconds to the top of a crescent-shaped walkway and pushed a weighted wall all before Ruden was even off the ladder. Kwan’s performance earned him a spot in the final round, where he lost to competitor Derik Scott on the Mount Olympus course despite a close race.
Kwan was proud of his performance though and said that as the youngest competitor, the experience was very humbling.
“This was an opportunity to show what I’ve been doing my whole life,” Kwan said. “It was the perfect platform to get the audience I needed to inspire people. Whatever you’re born to do, don’t take no as an answer.”
Kwan is planning to graduate with a degree in kinesiology and hopes to get a Ph.D. in exercise science and pursue entertainment on the side. He said he is already looking into a new television athletic competitions to compete in.