If you were watching NBC on the evening of July 1, 2019, you may have seen Angela Gargano on American Ninja Warrior. She strode stiffly onto the starting platform with her right leg in a brace and waved to the crowd. Suddenly, she ripped off the bulky contraption and flung it into the crowd just as the starting buzzer sounded and her run began — a run that was eleven months in the making.

“My run in 2018 was amazing — I was crushing the obstacles and felt stronger than ever,” says Gargano of a previous ANW appearance. “I knew that if I made it past the Wingnuts [obstacle], I would make it to the finals. And I did complete the Wingnuts! But then when I landed on the dismount mat, I collapsed in pain. I tore my ACL. I was devasted. I went from the strongest I’ve ever been to nothing in seconds.”

Shortly afterward, Gargano underwent surgery to repair her ACL, but she realized she had unfinished business with the world. “I knew the second I got out [of surgery] that I wanted to go back on the show,” she says. “And having that date — that deadline to

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