Javelin champion Fatima Whitbread has said she hopes she has “flown the flag really well” for the “older generation” after becoming the oldest recruit on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.
The Olympic gold medallist, 61, revealed she would have liked to have taken part in the gruelling Channel 4 show in her prime but hopes to have proven that it is “not just a young person’s game”.
She is among the 14 famous faces who viewers will see put through their paces in the heat of the Jordanian desert when the show returns to TV screens in early September.
Reflecting on why she had agreed to participate, Whitbread also said: “It’s because I’m reaching the age now, I’m obviously 61, and as a young woman, I was always very adventurous.
“I always liked the rough and tumble of everything. I think that was because living in children’s homes for 14 years, I had what I call quite a mischievous side to me, where I was tough and had to survive.
“I’m not someone who’d sit down with a little Barbie doll, if I’d had a different upbringing, maybe I would’ve done.”
Whitbread grew up in a children’s home after being abandoned in a flat as a baby by her biological parents.
She added: “Sport was my saviour because that’s really where I excelled. And a sense of achievement was important to me. It gave me confidence and it gave me the ability to believe in myself. So doing SAS is really only a knock on from those days.
“I would’ve liked to have done it as a young Whitbread because I think I would’ve cracked it wide open, but as an older lady, I’d like to think I’ve flown the flag really well in representation for the older generation, the middle aged, it’s not just a young person’s game.”
The former athlete describes herself as a “mad gym junkie” who has never stopped working out even after she retired from her sport.
She explained that this fitness level and extra specific training before taking part helped her during the show but admitted the course was still a “huge challenge” as it was different from previous seasons she had been watching.
Whitbread said she feels competing in a colder climate as opposed to the more than 30 degree heat of the desert would have suited her more as an older person as she was no longer able to be “firing off” all her cylinders.
Another of this year’s recruits is Paralympic gold medalist high jumper Jonathan Broom-Edwards, 34, who was born with talipes equinovarus, which is otherwise known as a club foot.
He explained that it means he has a “much smaller, skinnier, restricted left foot and lower leg” which affects his mobility and posture.
Broom-Edwards admitted he was “a little bit” worried about disability affecting him during the course but hopes he comes across in a manner that shows he is not letting his impairment hold him back.
He said: “I conduct myself in a way that hopefully does inspire those with impairments or any form of disability.
“I’d say, as well, it’s more about the challenge for myself. I don’t do it for anyone else. It’s more to see what I’m capable of. I’m not scared to try and fail and just get back up again.”
Also among those taking part are Brookside actress Jennifer Ellison, TV personality Calum Best and Towie cast member Pete Wicks.
Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins returns to Channel 4 on Sunday September 4 at 9pm.