Out of a population of 4396, the community of Blackheath is punching above its weight when it comes to physical strength, with four of their own making the cut for an arduous new TV adventure show Australian Ninja Warrior.
So what is it about these rock climbers that has given them the edge to pass an arduous obstacle course – is it body type, grip strength, adaptability or all three?
Some 5,000 applicants applied for the show. That list was whittled down to 500 to audition and these four were part of the 250 to have a go at the course; not like real ninjas – the assassins of Japanese legend – these competitors didn’t shed the blood of others, it was their own blood, sweat and tears on the line.
Lee Cossey, 34, his younger brother Ben, 32, Lee’s girlfriend Andrea Hah, 31 and their friend and fellow elite rock climber Tom O’Halloran, 24, said they knew of the overseas versions of the show via social media and had been keen to try out.
“It seemed like too much fun not to have a go at,” Lee said. “The few minutes you are running the course ... it’s like an adults playground.”
Both the Cossey brothers and Andrea Hah are physiotherapists. Andrea and Lee also started a Katoomba climbing gym last year while juggling night time commitments with the TV show in December.
“It was hard to fit in the whole ninja experience with our work and because our business is pretty new, we were a bit conservative, we didn’t want to take the whole two weeks off ... but it was an amazing experience,” Andrea said.
“Being in front of an audience with a video camera and trying to pounce and be agile”, under the TV lights was the most challenging part for Ben, but he joked “the catering” made up for it.
Australia Ninja Warrior, topped the ratings on Sunday night with a metro audience of 1.68 million. Two parkour brothers dominated on the show’s debut, so hopes are high for the climbers, with their similar physiques and talents.
“The strength required [for the course] is often not obtained through other sports, like sprinting and jumping,” Lee said.
“What we go on [the cliffs] all the time is always different and changing, different climbs and terrains, so you are always developing all these different kinds of skills … and you have to adapt quickly which helped us go well,” Tom added.
Tom said he hoped one of the outcomes from the show was to encourage others to have more fun in life.
“I think there’s too much focus on working out to be this or that [shape] … you’ve got to go out and have fun. Adults forget that.”
The four climbers appear on the show on Nine this Sunday night.