Student to make appearance on NBC’s new show “The Titan Games”

Covenant “Covie” Falana, junior and business major from Bolingbrook, will be featured in the NBC Show “Titan Games,” starring Duane “The Rock” Johnson this season. 

By Taher Zeitoun

DeKALB — Junior business major Covenant Falana will compete in W.W.E. Superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s new television show “The Titan Games,” something he said he prepared for through hard work and dedication.

Falana, who was born in Nigeria, was selected to participate in the competition series after highlighting his strength through his workout video. The show offers an opportunity for everyday people to compete in head-to-head challenges to test the mind, body and heart.

The 10-episode series premiered Jan. 3 and runs 7 p.m. Thursdays on NBC. Each week features new contestants facing off against each other in extreme challenges taking place in a football-sized arena.

Football and wrestling were the first major influences to make Falana take his physique more seriously before “The Titan Games.” He said seeing the way football players dressed and their walk made him want to be like them in stature and style.

Falana said he started heavy weightlifting at 110 pounds, the first step in his physical journey leading him to be selected for “The Titan Games.” He said his workout routine consisted of high-intensity weight training six days a week for four hours a day.

After three years of dedicated training, Falana said he found out about “The Titan Games” when he watched Johnson pitch the show on “The Late Night Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

The application process consisted of completing a form and submitting a video of the applicant’s workout routine.

Falana said his brother and girlfriend Livvie Kiel, who attends Columbia College in Chicago, helped him film the videos and apply. He said he was in disbelief when he first received news he would be offered a chance to compete for a spot on the show.

“You see a lot of the contestants are from places like Atlanta or New York, and I’m just a kid from Bolingbrook who nobody knows,” Falana said. “It was just such a big validation for something this big to happen to me, and, finally, all of my hard work was paying off.”

The first step in the selection process was participating in a one-day fitness evaluation in July. Falana said the challenges were meant to test everyone’s strength, and he was overwhelmed with his competitors’ talent.

“I showed up, and I saw big, big people: powerlifters, olympians, boxers and people who were experts in their craft,” Falana said. “I have been training for about three years, and I consider myself lucky to even be in the same discussion as these people.”

Falana said around 200 chosen competitors showed up and only 64 were chosen. He said the experience was humbling, and he did not expect to be chosen. He said he knew there were people stronger and more experienced than him, but he hoped the hard work he put in would be enough to get him through.

“When they called me saying they wanted me for the show, my first reaction was, ‘Are you serious? You let down all those people and chose me? That alone was just so amazing,” Falana said.

Falana was flown to the venue to film the show in September. He said he had never been on a stage before, and now he was running into an arena with over 300 people cheering his name.

He said he relates the experience to his motivation of wanting to be just like an NFL player.

“If I was a football player, this is what it would be like,” Falana said. “Being new to this country and being in a stadium having people scream my name, I felt like I made it,” Falana said.

Johnson was one of Falana’s idols growing up, and he said getting to meet him in Los Angeles was a dream come true. Falana said the experience consisted of flashy explosions and bright lights.

Falana said Kiel has supported him since they met in high school and was extremely supportive of his journey with “The Titan Games.”

“It’s just not something you think would ever happen to you, your family member, boyfriend or girlfriend,” Kiel said. “At the same time in my world, [Falana] is the one that deserves it the most.”

Falana said he would not have been able to be on the show without the help of his NIU professors. Falana was required to take a test covering the material he would be missing due to the preparation and filming of the show.

Marketing Professor Timothy Aurand provided Falana with a study guide covering the three weeks of material.

Anytime Falana had a question or needed assistance, he said Aurand, among others, made himself available.

Aurand said first impressions are beneficial regardless of the situation and Falana displayed a level of respect in his first impression.

“The combination of [Falana’s] professionalism, maturity and [the] work ethic he displayed to attain a position on that show provided me with the information I needed to go out of my way to make sure he had a good educational experience in my class,” Aurand said.

Falana said this was an adventure he will never forget, and it feels good to be rewarded by doing something I love.

“I’ve had this opportunity through my hard work of going to Los Angeles for the first time, and I got to meet [Johnson] in the process; nothing can take away from this amazing experience,” Falana said.