Last night, former Ninja Warrior finalist Troy Cullen and Bachelor Australia alum Kiki Morris were crowned the winners of the very first season of The Challenge Australia. The pair took home $100,000 each and will represent Australia in the upcoming Paramount+ series The Challenge: World Championship, which will air sometime in 2023.
Speaking to The Latch over the phone, Cullen and Morris reflected on their experiences competing in that final challenge.
“Watching it back, it didn’t even look that tough!” Morris said. “I remember in my head thinking I was gonna die, and I was just watching myself last night thinking, ‘I actually don’t look like I’m struggling all that bad’, which was really impressive, because I remember feeling like the world was ending.”
While competing on the series, Morris suffered a back injury that saw her “pulled into an ambulance twice”, where they administered anti-inflammatories and painkillers with “a 15-inch long needle” direct to the site of the injury, which she called “the ugly side of The Challenge that people don’t get to see”.
During the finale, Morris said, she got to a point where she was no longer able to keep fluids or painkillers down.
“Every mouthful of water I had, I’d throw it back up again,” she recalled. “I tried to take painkillers and I couldn’t keep them down. So, it was incredible what the human body can do when it needs to with no sleep, no food, no water.”
Still, she powered through, fuelled by the desire to move to be with her partner, who lives in Spain, as well as the desire to make her mum proud.
“My mum was a single parent, and she’s raised me to show me that we can do anything that we set our minds to and she’s a completely strong and resilient woman and an amazing example for the woman I wanted to be and I was thinking about her,” Morris said. I remember running almost deliriously just thinking ‘if I give up now, what was this all for?’ Yeah, it was tough.”
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As for how her back is doing now, though?
“If I can be honest with you, it’s absolutely cooked,” she said. With damage to her sciatic nerve, Morris said that she’s been seeing a physio and training with a personal trainer as she prepares to go into The Challenge: World Championship, and plans to “push through and dig deep”.
While Morris had to overcome a number of physical challenges throughout her time on The Challenge Australia, Cullen entered the competition as a physical threat, but that didn’t mean that the show was a walk in the park.
Coming from Ninja Warrior, Cullen said that he felt he had a “big advantage” when it came to the challenges, but that socially, “it was the exact opposite”.
“I got into the house and they all knew each other, and I knew nobody and I sort of had to create friendships and alliances, whereas they came in and they had like their Bachelor alliance already,” Cullen recalled, adding: “Everyone was very cliquey. I guess that’s the bit I struggled with the most, was like, the social side of things at the start.
“But yeah, I just kept being myself and trying to stay true to me, and it seemed to work. And avoid all the drama and the big egos!” he laughed.
Although Cullen wasn’t suffering from an injury like Morris was, he had just come out of a gruelling elimination challenge against Konrad Bień-Stephen. Combined with the sleep deprivation that they endured before the final challenge run commenced, Cullen said that it all made for an experience that was “much harder than Ninja Warrior“.
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“I reckon if that had’ve lasted another day, I would have been stuffed,” he said. “Because by the time… I was running towards the finish line, my calves were cramped and barely holding me up, and I was just — when I got there, I was so thankful. It was full on.
“There wasn’t a moment I thought about quitting, though, I never thought about that,” he continued. “But, man, it was hard not to! Especially when that car was so heavy at the end, your quads are burning, I’m thinking ‘is Brittany pushing?’ These thoughts crossed your mind, but you know, she was pushing hard. It was full on.”
The Challenge: World Championship will air on Paramount+ in 2023.
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