SAS: Who Dares Wins – Jungle Hell – Interview with Amelia

SAS Who Dares Wins - Jungle Hell - Interview with Amelia

SAS: Who Dares Wins returns to Channel 4 on Monday 23 January and this time the recruits are going to find themselves in Jungle Hell! It’s time to meet the recruits and first up is Amelia. A 28 year old Software Account Executive, Amelia used to swim competitively.

Why did you decide to take part in SAS: Who Dares Wins?
Because I didn’t think I could do it. I have an inner narrative that tells me I’m not good enough, I’m going to fail, I’m not strong or capable and wouldn’t be able to do it. This is a narrative that weighs heavily on me in everyday life so I thought if I could do this I would be able to show myself that I can do anything and quieten or re-write that negative inner dialogue.

What did you hope to get out of this experience?
More confidence and faith in myself. Closure from some of my past demons, an opportunity to put that chapter of my life to bed. To prove that so many of the things that, that person in that chapter told me about myself. And the lack of confidence and belief in myself that came as a result, isn’t real. I wanted to come out feeling strong and capable in an authentic, deeper way.

Did it meet your expectations? What was different? What was as expected? And why?
It was completely different to anything I could have imagined. It did more to heal me than I could have hoped for by tearing me open completely and forcing me to really face the mental battle I’d been dealing with.

I hadn’t expected the mental aspect to be so testing. I thought it was just going to be the physical challenges that I found hard but mentally, the whole experience is taxing and teaches you how much you can cope with.

What did you learn about yourself from this experience?
I realised just how much of my life I was controlling in order to feel safe and to be able to trust myself that I wouldn’t go back to the dark place I had been in that resulted in me nearly taking my life. The hardest thing for me about the experience was having every element of control taken away from me. I hadn’t expected this and it made me realise that I was masking a lot of my pain still by trying to control every element of my life, including not opening myself up emotionally to people or letting myself make connections because that would make me vulnerable. I didn’t realise before the show the extent to which I was doing that.

Did you manage to confront and rid yourself of any demons whilst on the course? What happened?
Yes I think I did. Before the show I wasn’t able to open myself up emotionally. I had started dating a guy before I went on the course and nearly left him multiple times because I couldn’t cope with the fear the lack of control gave me. Since the show, being forced to give up control, make myself vulnerable and also have Chris and Foxy verbally say that they could see I was physically exhausting myself with the mental strain I was putting myself under by being so scared and tormenting myself, really made me face those issues once I left. I’ve now been with my boyfriend 6 months and have completely given into not having control over everything and trusting someone else to not break me to the point that I go back to the dark place I was in before.

How did you prepare for the course? Any particular training?
I continued doing a lot of crossfit training. I did a lot of weighted runs. My now boyfriend who I was dating at the time of training is ex-army, so he gave me a weighted run schedule, he took me on a yomp for 3 hours with 15kg on my back then upped it to 20 for the last 30 mins, he took on a ‘military/DS’ role to see how I dealt with that mentally. He also took me to the gym and did sessions where I didn’t know what was coming next so I couldn’t break it down.

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What part of the course were you most nervous about before the course? Was it as bad as you expected or were you pleasantly surprised by your strength?
I was most nervous about the weighted runs and I was right, they were the worst for me. I only weighed about 57kg on the show. I think I was the lightest and second shortest recruit and we kept reweighing the bags when wet and at times they weighed between 25-30kg, so half my body weight, which was insanely difficult to run with and keep up with everyone.

Overall the course was far harder than I had anticipated. Not physically, as I knew that would be bad, but more mentally. I didn’t anticipate the strain of lack of sleep, reduced meals, being on edge not knowing when or what you’d be called to do next.

Which part of the course did you find the hardest?
Definitely the weighted runs, particularly on the day of the waterfall. It was a long run to the bottom of the waterfall with the bergens. We were told it was 100% humidity and about 38 degrees and we were in full kit. I struggled through that and then as soon as we put the bags down, we had to run up to the waterfall and were beasted the whole way. I didn’t want to not do the waterfall after I’d managed to get up the hill but it was so hard to push past.

Mental or physical – which did you find the most challenging?
Physical was hard but it was the mental that was the worst for me, especially after my mirror room brought my past up, followed straight after by a beasting.

How did you cope with the humid Vietnamese heat? Were you prepared for the climate?
I really struggled with it. Nothing could have prepared me for that. I don’t think I coped very well with it, I struggle with heat anyway, even on holidays I just want to be in water when it’s that hot, so honestly when we got told to get in swamps and rivers it was a relief. Being in full kit with weighted bags in the glaring sun was horrific.

Tell us about your experience under the Directing Staff? Did any of them surprise/inspire/change your life?
Yes, I think Chris and Foxy had the biggest impact on me. They both gave me so many home truths which I needed. Chris said to me at the top of the waterfall ‘you were a competitive swimmer, I expected more from you’ and that lit a fire in me to push through the pain and sickness I was feeling and get down the waterfall. I don’t know if I’d have been able to push through without his beration/encouragement and getting past that and getting down the waterfall is one of the things I’m most proud of.

I think Foxy had the biggest impact. When I was annoyed with myself for failing the heights challenge, he reminded me that I’d faced something that was an absolutely huge fear for me and that I should be proud of that. That was just a way of looking at myself, which is the opposite of what I usually do.

He also told me he could see I was exhausting myself by tearing myself apart. That is probably what broke me the most – realising that others can visually see what I thought about myself and what I was doing to myself internally. Whilst I may not have been able to change that on the show it’s something that has shaped my life ever since.

Were you surprised by the new DS line up?
Yes and no. I was surprised Rudy was no longer the Chief Instructor, just because he was before but actually Billy leading makes total sense.

What did you learn or take from each of the DS?
Billy – That everything the DS do has a purpose. The shouting, name calling, hard conditions they put you in seem so harsh but actually looking at every action and decision the DS make is all done with kindness. To keep you safe, to make you better and stronger and to make you part of something bigger, as a team, not an individual. Every decision Billy makes was brought from a place of incredible experience and kindness.

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Rudy – That the DS really care about your success, they don’t want you to fail. Rudy was always there with firm but kind words of encouragement. No drama but reality checks, when I was crying after I failed the first task, he told me to stop crying and helped me take back control and perspective. He also kept encouraging me for about 15 minutes before I handed my armband in, I truly believe he didn’t want me to give up on myself.

Foxy – Foxy is the one that held up the mirror most for me. It hurt but it was needed. Foxy really gave me a reality check of how I’m my own worst enemy and holding myself back.

Chris – reminded me of who I am, what I’ve done and what I’m capable of. I think I look at myself very negatively and he held up a mirror to show me my achievements when I needed it most. Without him I wouldn’t have been able to push through some of my darkest points.

Did you form any close bonds with your fellow recruits?
Yes, all of them. We’re in touch regularly. I think I’d say I was closest to both Grant and Scott. Scott and I got each other through a lot, we both really missed home and our partners and spent a lot of time daydreaming about home together. That got us through a lot.

Grant also changed a lot for me because he wouldn’t let me just go into myself when I was struggling. When I came back from my mirror room and was mentally a bit broken, I just shut myself off and go into myself. I went to lay on my bed and put the pillow over my head but Grant wouldn’t let me. I can vividly remember him saying ‘no don’t do that’ and he got me to open up and process.

What is your biggest fear? Is that still the case?
Getting so broken that I go back to a place where I could take my own life. That night’s never left me and nor has the feeling of relief I felt when I decided to do it. That feeling is the thing I fear the most, not because I was scared that I’d decided to take my own life but because I was relieved.

I think there is a part of me that is still scared of that but I think I have come a long long way from that. I think I am better at opening up and making myself vulnerable and I don’t carry the pain I used to. The show has healed me more than I could have imagined.

What did you miss the most while you were in Vietnam?
My boyfriend, even though we hadn’t been together that long before I went in.

What’s the first thing you did when you finished the course?
I called my boyfriend and ate about six snickers, before having a really, really hot soapy shower and getting into clean bedsheets, which was utter bliss!!

What’s the first food you ate?
Snickers! Then the next day we ate all the Vietnamese food we could (which wasn’t a lot, as our appetites had shrunk!) but it was magic.

Summarise your whole SAS: Who Dares Wins experience?
Life changing, healing and empowering. It was the best time of my life and has changed it forever. It was a once in a life time trip to the most beautiful country with some incredibly inspiring people, who changed my entire outlook on life and myself

Would you ever do it again?
100000% There’s not much I wouldn’t give to have the experience again. It was life changing and I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the chance. Knowing what I know now, having done the healing that I have and also having changed my training a lot since the show I would love to see what I’d be capable of achieving on the show if I did it again.

SAS: Who Dares Wins – Jungle Hell Premieres Monday 23 January 2023 on Channel 4.

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.