A Kelso man has survived being put through his paces on one of the UK’s toughest game shows to compete another day.
Fitness fanatic Ali Hay, 28, of Kelso, appeared on hit ITV show Ninja Warrior UK at the weekend.
Ali was selected to take part in the Gladiators-style show – presented by Chris Kamara, Ben Shephard and Rochelle Humes – after impressing at auditions.
As a qualified fitness instructor and basketball coach, Ali is no stranger to the gym, but he says Ninja Warrior was still one of the most daunting things he has ever done.
“When you are there, you are behind the set, and there’s photo shoots and interviews, then you are thrust in front of more than 1,000 folk in a massive arena,” he said.
“It was daunting because, come the heats, pretty much everyone I spoke to was a professional athlete – some of them taking part were Olympians or Commonwealth Games athletes – but everyone had real respect for each other.
“Standing on that podium waiting to go was probably the hardest part of it all, never mind running the course.”
Now in its third season, more than 30,000 fans applied to take part this year, and that was whittled down to just 250 contestants, split into heats of 50.
Ali finished his course in one minute 32 seconds, the second fastest time of the heat, and that saw him progress comfortably to the semi-finals.
He was supported from the audience by his partner Melanie Kaye and sons Atticus, one, and Aldous, three.
Ali said: “My oldest boy loves it. Although Aldous was petrified of the fire on the set, there is not one piece of furniture in the house that is not now a piece of Ninja Warrior obstacle.”
Ali became hooked on the show having followed the original US version for years.
Spurred on by a friend in the gym, and despite suffering a broken collarbone at the time, Ali applied online, submitted his video showcasing both his fitness and personality and was invited to audition in Glasgow last year.
There he had to pass further fitness tests before a six-month wait to hear whether he had been accepted for the show, filmed in Manchester in June.
“I didn’t really expect to get on. I knew it was brutal and thought I had no chance,” he said.
“Everybody has to at least pass the fitness test, but they also go on people’s character.
“They only let you on if you have taken the show seriously and have trained hard.
“It’s super tough and pretty demanding.”
Following his call-up, he then had to “hit the training hell for leather”.
He said: “I’m a company director with the Bar Scotland, and we do a lot of the hospitality tents at the sevens tournaments, so the audition in June fell at our busiest time, but I made the most of it and fitted in as much training as I could, including swinging from the marquees.”
Ali’s semi-final run was also filmed in June and will be shown on ITV in a few weeks’ time, but he has been sworn to secrecy for now about how he gets on.