Occupation: Paralympic High Jumper
Being a parasport athlete, Jonathan is always looking for new challenges in his career and prove himself to be as capable as any other Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins recruit. He has been training for the course by listening to screaming babies crying, whilst running, so is really committed to getting through the course.
Why did you decide to put yourself through the toughest show on telly?
You know what, I was gunning for that show for about a year, actually. I've always watched it, always been intrigued by it and admired the people that were on it. I suppose one of the biggest things for me through my career has been getting to learn about my own mind. I started to realise the value of subjecting myself to discomfort in order to challenge myself and to challenge the weaknesses in my mind. I'm a bit of a masochist in some respects.
Did you do any preparation for it?
I spoke to a good friend of mine who's a personal trainer, and he put together this gruelling plan for me to try and get me ready, which involved all types of endurance HIIT work, CrossFit stuff, but also training in sleep deprivation, training in cold water submersion. He's a sadist! So after not having done any kind of long distance running, I built up to about eight kilometres on a treadmill, which I did before traveling out. So yeah, it was horrible, but it prepared me in the right way.
You are a Paralympian, can you explain your disability?
So my disability's one of those harder to see disabilities. I was born with talipes equinovarus, which is otherwise known as clubbed foot, and it's a condition which is from birth within the womb. It's a hereditary condition. It's left me with a much smaller, skinnier, restricted left foot and lower leg. So my left leg is actually shorter by an inch or so. I don't have the ability to tiptoe, go up onto my left toes. There's fusion in certain areas so I haven't got the mobility, and it affects my general posture. But was I worried about it going in? I mean, a little bit, yes. I'd never been under this sort of training and hardship before in terms of my left foot. So of course it was something which I was anticipating, but that's why I put as much emphasis into my training for it as I could. And over my career, I've really worked on my flexibility and my mobility to keep myself in check. And that's what really helped me throughout the course.
Did you feel like you had anything to prove going into it in terms of disabilities?
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. Hopefully, I came across in a way that shows I'm not going to let my impairment hold me back. Anybody on the show, anyone in this world, we all have some form of difference. We all have differences. We all have challenges we have to face, and regardless of whether it's a known disability like you haven't got a leg, whether it's a slightly hidden disability like myself, or whether it's something like irritable bowel or skin conditions or whatever it is, it doesn't have to be a real visible disability. We all have things, same challenges we have to face. And so if I can conduct myself in a way that helps inspire people to go beyond them challenges, I know I'm doing something right.
What did you make of the other celebs when you saw the line up?
I'm not one to watch much television so it's not like I was massively starstruck or anything like that. I mean, I try to see everybody as individuals regardless of where they are in their lives, but it was amazing to get to know them, to hear their stories, to see what they've gone through. And no joke, hearing some of the other celebs' stories, and God, there were some real tearful moments when I was hearing some of the hardships that they'd gone through, and we had quite emotive chats throughout. So I felt like I got to know them really well and met some really decent people that I'll probably have connections with for the rest of my life.
Was there any sense of competitiveness between you all?
There were times of competition, but not initially, actually. I think initially we were just all interested in helping each other, and I think we came across quite strong. And when we got separated into two teams, then there came this competitiveness. I remember saying at one point when there was a bit of locked horns, "Guys, we are still one team. Come on. Hug." So I still tried to rally the team together, not be like us versus them or anything like that. But there were elements of that. And I think that's a different point because the tensions were rising and the emotions were rising and we were all tired, hungry, absolutely battered, beaten and bruised. You could see that there were conflicts arising, but as soon as we had a task where we could vent our frustrations out, things went back to normal, so it showed the value of a bit of physical work.
What was it like being around the Directing Staff?
Oh, I felt privileged. I felt absolutely privileged to be surrounded by people who are hard as anything. They are tough as nails. And the air of presence that they had is like this iron will, they just emitted this strong-willed energy. I just felt so privileged to have this opportunity to be guided by them. If they were shouting or anything like that, I didn't take it personally. I just tried to see them as this source of potential marginal gains. They would push me to be better. And I knew that I needed that push to transcend some of the difficulties I was having in my mind at the time.
How did it feel having them screaming in your face?
Do you know, I don't think I had any direct shouting in my face, and I suppose the only thing I can think about that is that if you are literally putting everything into every bit you're doing, and if you are trying your best, and if you're being supportive, then that's what they're trying to encourage in you. I think the people who got shouted at were maybe coming away from that and maybe thinking too individually about it, or they're creating resistance to what the DS are telling them. So I don't think I actually got shouted at!
You go back to basics in camp, what was that like?
Oh yeah. Full on. I mean, you start to get comfortable having a chat whilst you're going to the toilet next to each other in full view of everyone else, and cold showers. I mean, at one point the water stopped working and we had to clean our teeth in the shower water. So yeah, it was tough. The lack of rations, the lack of sleep, it was quite a demanding show.
Did the experience of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins change you in any way?
Yeah, it did. I breached the pain barrier a few times where I'd gone from being in severe pain to the pain vanishing. So I learned a hell of a lot about my own capability to surpass the point I want to quit. It got me to properly deal with some of the traumas that I've had in my life. It got me to really explore the deep depths of my psyche. I just came out knowing myself a little bit more and knowing that I can endure much more hardship than I ever thought possible. So I take that into my everyday life now and I've taken it into my training and things that I've got personal best in the gym this year even though I'm getting older, so it was an amazing life changing experience for me.