From Rugby to ‘Dancing with the Stars’, Wendell Sailor Joins the Ranks of Seven’s Australian Spartan

Wendell Sailor, who had a highly successful career in two rugby codes, has now remade himself as a TV personality.

But the man, both bubbly and light-bulb bright, expands his nationwide fame, marking another Seven collaboration since Dancing with the Stars and The Greatest Athlete — and, of course, leaving the country in awe.

Australian Spartan is about the impossible. And the only way to conquer the obstacles ahead is to work together as a cohesive unit of three. Raising the bar on team competitions, groups of friends, families and workmates must join forces to race through a specially-designed spectacular Spartan course engineered to challenge their determination, endurance and will. Joining previously announced hosts Edwina Bartholomew and Hamish McLachlan, Sailor will bring viewers all the action as it happens from Australia’s finest athletes as they tackle the world’s toughest obstacle competition.

We had the pleasure of meeting Sailor to talk about this tale of determination, teamwork, and the good thing about taking a risk that leaves you anxious and scared…

After a successful dual code rugby career, what attracted you to the role of Sideline Commentator for Australian Spartan?
There are always projects you look outside of sport and I think, for me, Spartan was a good fit. I’m a retired, mid-40’s father but I’d still like to hold onto what I had. It’s amazing to live life vicariously through these athletes and really is the perfect scenario for me. I didn’t ‘want’ to be a part of it, I ‘needed’ to be a part of it.

For the viewers at home who haven’t seen it up close, can you describe the scale of the Spartan course and how big it actually is?
The scale of the course is something you won’t believe. Some look easy, some look hard – but once you see the athletes compete, the fatigue factor kicks in, the noises from the crowd can be heard and then the nervous energy… it’s just one of those things you can’t explain!

As Eminem said, ‘You only get one shot,’ and these teams are so excited yet so composed. From the human ladder to the flying shield, Australia will be in disbelief by the athlete’s determination.

Some of the obstacles look like they can be quite painful! Have there been any accidents?
The obstacles are definitely tough and at some stages, we have had a few accidents which the audience will see through the Spartan series. But you know, these athletes have trained so hard for this. When they’re injured, they still want to keep going. Personally, I admire the ‘inner-Spartan’ within them and the team’s ‘push forward’ attitude.

Because you’ve worked so hard, you really don’t want to let the team down, and that’s all part of being the Australian Spartan.

We need to ask Wendell. Have you attempted the obstacles yourself?
Hamish and I are both confident, athletic guys and we really wanted to have a go, but we weren’t allowed! By the time we finished filming the finale, I thought all bets are off. Honestly, half of those obstacles I couldn’t have done (didn’t suit my body type or grip strength). But I respect what the athletes have put themselves through for this show.

You’ve previously appeared on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘Greatest Athlete’. What are some of the highlights that stand out for you?
Being a part of DWTS, it was great to get out of my comfort zone. I’d like to think I could dance, but the routines such as the waltz or tango were extremely hard to do. Remember, I only lasted two weeks! My family will never let me forget that.

I think I was the oldest and heaviest contestant on The Greatest Athlete (laughs). Billy Slater really crushed me…

Will we continue to see you on our screens in the near future? Please say yes.
I hope so! I’m not bad looking, right? I love television and it certainly loves me.

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