Belfast Telegraph

'Balloon Ninja' Northern Ireland BGT semi-finalist Ryan Tracey fulfils 'lifetime ambition'

By Jackie Bell

Britain's Got Talent fans may recognise Ninja Warrior UK contestant Ryan Tracey, who makes an appearance on the famous obstacle course this weekend.

The Omagh man made it through to the live BGT semi-finals in 2016 in an attempt to break the Guinness world record in balloon modelling.

While managing to equal the World Record during his appearance on the show, Ryan didn't make it through to the final - however he's back on ITV this Saturday to tackle a completely different beast.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ryan, 36, explained why he had decided to give Ninja Warrior a go.

"It really is the ambition of a lifetime," he said.

"I grew up on a large housing estate in Omagh and I would always be outside playing with pretend swords and climbing up the trees.

"I also loved the Ninja Turtles, so I'm pretty sure I was destined to be a ninja," he joked.

"I always want to challenge myself and always thought I'd love to give that obstacle course a go, but I never had the confidence as an adult to go for it.

"Being on Britain's Got Talent gave me that confidence I think, so after appearing on the show last year I just though 'why not?'"

Ryan keeps his balloon modelling persona during his attempt on the Ninja Warrior course  - aptly appearing as a 'Balloon Ninja'.

"I think I bring a bit of colour and entertainment to the course," he said. "But I definitely put the work in when it came to getting myself ready."

For five weeks before the recording in Manchester, Ryan put himself through a strict routine that involed intense training, a personal trainer, a strict diet plan and a body work therapist.

"I did take quite a scientific approach to it, I wanted to show that while I was there to entertain, a balloon modeller can do alright too."

He added: "Being there on the day was quite daunting and the level of athleticism among the contestants was amazing. I was quite nervous when I got there but I just had to change my mindset and be ready."

Ryan and his wife Catherine have five children - Aoife (16), Rebecca (11), Aimee (9), Matthew (5), and Jessica (3) - so it was a bit tricky to logistically get the whole family over to Manchester to support him during the recording.

"I had my balloons for support," Ryan joked.

And his experience on Ninja Warrior hasn't distracted him from his main focus of breaking World Records.

"I currently hold three out of seven balloon modelling world records, that's more than any other balloon modeller and I hope to be breaking even more this year - so we'll see!"

Ninja Warrior UK air on Saturday, May 5 at 6.30pm on ITV.

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