A pre-med student from Brigham Young University will be on "American Ninja Warrior" this Monday, July 17 at 7 p.m. on NBC.
Nicknamed the "Nerdy Ninja," 21-year-old Taylor Bouton is a returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the Sweden Stockholm Mission and a history major at BYU. He told the Deseret News that he selected the major in order to have the opportunity to go on some international internships and have "fun" classes to go with his pre-med science and math courses.
Bouton said he has planned to be a doctor ever since he was diagnosed with clostridium difficile, a potentially deadly infection that affects the digestive tract.
At 17 years old, Bouton couldn't eat for up to two weeks at a time. He lost 20 pounds and was blacking out during his practices for the high school track and cross-country teams.
"Every time I ate, it felt like vomit going down my throat," he said in an article for the BYU McKay School of Education.
He ended up in the hospital on heavy doses of antibiotics. Then, in February 2014, he received a fecal matter transplant from his brother, Noah. It was inserted through a tube in his nose and cured him within two hours. In two weeks, he was back to normal weight and ready to get active again.
"One of the reasons why I enjoy physical fitness so much is being able to use my body," Bouton said in an interview with the Deseret News. "That's also why I want to be able to become a doctor and be able to help people be healthy."
Bouton, who completes medical school applications this summer, finished his MCAT exam in a third of the alloted time. But, in between all his studying, he still found time to practice for "American Ninja Warrior."
Previously from Lithia, Florida, Bouton got hooked watching ninja obstacles courses when he was 8 years old and his family got cable for the first time. They turned on the television to the original Japanese ninja warrior show, "Sasuke," and it became Bouton's dream to accomplish those kind of ninja stunts one day.
Bouton used to train with his whole family at an obstacle course gym in Tampa, and has found a similar gym to train at in Provo with his cousin and roommates. There are even a couple of experienced ninja warrior competitors, such as Drew Drechsel, who he's trained with a few times.
Now, at 21, Bouton is old enough to compete on the show. He sent in his audition video and was invited to the Denver qualifying rounds. His family and friends flew out from all over the country to support him. Bouton said he also felt support from his ninja peers as he competed.
"Honestly, my favorite part about the experience was all of us were competitors competing against the course, not each other," he said. "We helped each other. We gave each other tips. It was a cool spirit of camaraderie. If one person succeeds, everyone succeeds."
The scariest moment of his life, he said, was when he got on the platform to start the obstacle course, looked up to see his face on the jumbo tron, and realized this was really happening.
"It was just an incredible experience," he said. "It was the experience of a lifetime. Hopefully I'm invited to come back next year."