Ali’s back to face toughest challenge on TV
The Borders’ very own bearded ninja, Ali Hay, had nothing to prove after the last series of Ninja Warrior UK after finishing third in the final.
However, that hasn’t stopped him climbing on board for another punt at the almost mythical Mount Mirdoriyama in series five, which kicks off on ITV this Saturday at 6.30pm.
And Ali, of Kelso, will make his first appearance on Saturday’s openingshow.
The competition puts athletes to the test by putting them in front of the most feared obstcle course on telly. And this series, the competitors will be tackling the course alongside celebrities such as ice dancer Sylvain Longchambon, and singers Lee Latchford Evans and Jake Quickenden.
So what brings Ali back year after year?
He told us: “It’s just the drive! I love to show people what can be done. I’m always trying to get fitter and stronger.
“I’m very rarely competing against the other athletes, I’m competing against the course.
“For me, I push it as much as I can physically, and try to be as quick as I can, especially this year.
“I‘d love to be one of the fastest ninjas out there! I’m always trying to beat the speed and break records – I was fastest on the semi-final course last year.
“Also, I’m usually so focused on performing well and on what I’m doing that I forget to actually enjoy it, so I was looking to enjoy it more this time round.
“It is tough because you’re against yourself, but the obstacles are always so intense and the crowd is so intense, it gets bigger every year.
“People say ‘Why do you go back?’ because there is more pressure on you and you have to do better and better, but for me, I’m the only ninja that I’m aware of who has improved every season that I come back.
“I love it, I don’t think I couldn’t not do it ... although I turned 30 last year and I’m not getting any younger.”
Just how Ali gets on in this series is a strictly-held secret.
But he added: “The show is so huge now ... I think even the repeats of last series got around 3million views.
“But viewers are really going to love this series, it’s bigger and better than ever and it is going to look awesome.”
Once the filming was over for the series, Ali snapped his Achilles tendon while in training for another competition which put him out of action for a few months, but he has recently got back in the swing of things.
He also runs ninja classes for athletes who want to take up the sport.