Kelso’s Ali Hay stunned telly viewers on Saturday night, by waltzing through a devillishly tricky semi-final course full half minute faster than anyone else.
ITV1’s Ninja Warrior UK show decided to ramp up the difficulty from the heats, meaning few of the contestants managed to finish the course.
Even Sébastien Foucan – legendary French parkour originator and star of Bond film Casino Royale – failed to complete the course, coming a cropper in the rolling log penultimate section.
But Hay stormed to the end, finishing with a punishing rope climb to hit the button and stop the clock at three minutes and three seconds.
The next fastest competitior was Owen “The Stuff” McKenzie with 3.38 – 35 seconds behind the “Bearded Ninja” Ali, who is the only Scot left in the competition.
And Hay told us he could probably have done it quicker “if I wasn’t buggering about so much.”
He said: “It was definitely the hardest course ever, which is shown by how few finished.
“I did kind of take my time though, as I didn’t want to make any daft mistakes.”
What’s more, he told presenter Chris Kamara that he hadn’t had a wink’s sleep the previous evening, and that he felt “rubbish” both the day before the semi-final, and the day after.
But he added: “As soon as I was on the stage, I immediately felt better. The crowd is awesome.”
Over the two semi-finals, only 10 athletes actually completed the course, the other 50 finalists being graded on where they reached.
Ali said: “If I knew I was going so fast, I’d probably have slowed it down a bit.
Looking ahead to the first stage of the final which airs this Saturday, May 26 at 6.30pm, Ali said: “My fast time meant I had to wait until last in the final, which certainly piled on the pressure. The first stage of the final is a knock-out competition.
“There are no second chances in this one.”