Justine Ndiba and Kyra Green: Love Island’s Sneaky Threats To Win The Challenge USA
We are officially three weeks into The Challenge USA. Multiple players and their respective shows have already stood out for both good and bad reasons. As written about last week, Tyson Apostol has been the leader in the clubhouse, dominating daily challenges and having a firm grasp on the game strategically. The Survivor players look like they mean business and have multiple players who are threats to win: Tyson, Danny, Desi, and Sarah; even the ones I don’t see as threats to win have put up Top 3 Daily finishes in Shan and Ben. Big Brother has been all over the place; however, Angela looks like the top woman, and Kyland has some pep in his step. The Amazing Race players went in with small numbers (3), and even though they have already lost one, they have brought a vibrant energy to the show.
The Love Island players…Well… They have taken the most losses. Three of the six cast members eliminated thus far have come from Love Island. Every single elimination has had at least one Love Island player competing, and as it stands, some already have a label on them where people view them as players looking for relationships and partying rather than competing. While the Love Island players like to have a good time, many of them are here to compete just like everyone else. Cinco is a former D1 collegiate athlete, Cashay has won an elimination, and Shannon seems like a delight — this blog isn’t about them, though. This blog is about the two Love Island ladies who I think have a great chance at long-term success on The Challenge and a real shot of winning this season: Justine Ndiba and Kyra Green.
Three weeks ago, I barely knew who Justine & Kyra were. Since then, they have held my attention with their competitiveness, athleticism, gorgeousness, and personalities. Let’s break down what they have done, why they have succeeded, and what sets them apart.
WHAT HAVE THEY DONE SO FAR?
It’s only been 3 weeks, so not a big sample size. Except sometimes, when watching any sporting event, you can almost tell in an instant who has the “It Factor” based on the way they move and carry themselves during challenges. Justine & Kyra aren’t just pretty faces with Instaglam bodies; they are fit athletes who are seeing stuff like heights over water challenges and throwing themselves immediately into the fire. You watch them run and can tell they played sports growing up based on their form/coordination.
In terms of on-paper results, Justine is the only woman not named Angela to win a daily challenge this season and has performed well in the other two dailies with average partners. Meanwhile, Kyra has a 2nd place finish with an above-average partner and has stayed above water in the others with some less than stellar partners. In a game where the strategy is becoming to eliminate the weakest players, Justine & Kyra are making noise to where you cannot just do that.
THE HUMILITY OF JUSTINE NDIBA
When new players debut on The Challenge, they like to boast their achievements and accolades, usually inflating their history as athletes or academics. I don’t blame them and typically enjoy it when people can show off/flaunt. You have Angela listing off her entire resume and transcripts or Sarah talking about wanting to intimidate all the other girls, and they should have her sign the check already. Justine is a rare case where she is an incredibly accomplished woman on paper yet underplays her physical and mental prowess both in the house and in confessionals.
In Episode 2, Justine mentioned she played soccer growing up in a way that sounded like she played rec league soccer when she was 12. The reality is Justine was a Division 2 college soccer player. Soccer is one of the sports that translates best to The Challenge as the game involves a lot of fast-paced moving and problem-solving, essentially the premise of most challenges and eliminations. The footwork/coordination that comes with playing soccer at a high level lends to heights and balance-related comps, and not to mention, it gives the cardio needed for a Final. We saw Justine’s athleticism in the second daily where even though Tyson made many treks, she made two treks with relative ease as well; and in Episode 3, she and Leo were one of the first teams to retrieve all their staircase pieces. Justine is a natural athlete, is not undersized at 5'5, and that’s not even getting into who she is as a human.
As physically impressive as Tyson was during the second daily, he had to trust Justine to put as many words on the board as possible, which she did. Justine is a hard-working, intelligent woman. She started in Community College, worked a job while being a student-athlete, transferred, gained her Bachelor’s in Finance, and has worked in many finance-related positions since graduating. Looking at how mentally fierce Justine is, it’s impossible to imagine her quitting a Final or giving up on anything because she’s resilient. Justine is impeccable socially as well, she won Love Island as she was able to capture the hearts of America, and that likability factor will come up huge as the game continues. The lines/division of different shows will begin to feel blurred once people find themselves becoming big Justine fans.
THE FEARLESSNESS OF KYRA GREEN
Back when the cast initially got dropped for this show, I had Kyra Green ranked in the bottom tier where I thought she was going to be someone cast only for their looks and not to compete as I couldn’t find anything suggesting a past athletic history. Most of what came up for Kyra was stuff regarding acting, modeling, and singing, which now, in retrospect, has me in awe because, damn, maybe this woman can do it all. Before we jump into Kyra as a competitor I have to drop this random clip of Kyra as Kidz Bop star back in 2010:
In the opening daily challenge, Kyra was part of the first pairs to go, and she was the one who had to assure and push her ex-BF Cashel. Looking back, partnering up two exes to kick off the first daily feels like CBS wanted them to fail the daily to have them compete in elimination to create the most dramatic storyline. Nope, Kyra stepped up, got them going, and in the end, they walked out of the daily safe. When the Love Islanders were partying at the bar in Episode 1, I was caught off-guard by how tall Kyra looked compared to the other Love Island ladies.
Moving into the second daily, Kyra got another below-average partner in *check notes to find his name*… David Alexander. Kyra effortlessly made the jump from the platform to the cargo net that many players struggled with (including David). At this moment, I went, “holy shit, Kyra is legit tall.” Looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised that a literal model is tall; however, Kyra is not just 5'9. Kyra is extremely proportional with long arms and legs, has an excellent set of shoulders, athletic calves, and isn’t someone who is going to get rolled over in a Hall Brawl. I feel a bit gross as a man analyzing a woman’s body that way. Except they are important details because we have seen other *models* compete on the show where even the ones who do well, often lack a specific characteristic (power, explosiveness, cardio, etc.). Kyra has classic runway gorgeousness and height while having a fitness model/athlete build.
In the third daily, Kyra finally got a competent partner in Ben, and together they finished in a close 2nd Place. Kyra looked like a beast during the challenge, speeding through the cardio portion and then later balancing on the beam with ease. Kudos to Ben for putting props on Kyra’s name and doing so in a fashion where he complimented his original partners yet knew something was different with Kyra. I’m not sure how Kyra will stack up in particular parts of the game; what I do know is she is fearless, and whatever gets put in front of her, she is going to attack it head-on.
WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES OF WINNING?
Let’s talk about making the Final first. The biggest factor working against Justine & Kyra is the Love Island label, where for certain Big Brother/Survivor players, the path of least resistance is voting in the LI players. Hopefully, Shannon & Cashay can work as buffers where they will get thrown in first as the weaker Love Island women. In the coming weeks, if Justine & Kyra can continue to perform well and impress various partners, those same men might have trouble voting them in. We know Tyson respects Justine and Ben respects Kyra now, so I could see them tossing in fellow Survivor Shan before her. If Justine & Kyra kill a daily with Xavier or Kyland, they might throw Azah into elimination before them.
If they go into elimination, I think if it were 1 v. 1, I’d put money on Justine or Kyra in almost any game over any woman on this cast not named Angela, Desi, or Sarah. Unfortunately, there’s such a large variance in athleticism/skill in this male cast that you must stay out of the arena at all costs.
What are their chances of winning? Kyra is more of a longshot because I think Justine is set up a little better politically after winning that daily with Tyson; also, I’m not as confident in Kyra’s ability when it comes to mental games/puzzles. For Kyra to win, she and others need to play big once in power and try to throw the massive Final threats (Angela, Sarah, Desi) into elimination the second they get a weak partner. Justine also needs to play a similar style, although part of me thinks Justine is perfect for a Final anyway and that maybe the other girls in the house should see her as a big threat. Modern finals involve non-stop running, math, puzzles, and being able to work with partners. Justine seems so easy to work with, she used to deal with numbers daily, and has the gas in the tank to run miles on miles. As I type this, I feel like Justine will get eliminated from competing in a blind stick fight next week, and that’ll be the end of her story.
Regardless of how things play out, I can tell you that these last three weeks have turned me into a fan of Justine & Kyra; where I want to see them succeed and need them to be locks for Season 39 of the MTV Challenge.