SAS Chris O

SAS: Who Dares Wins Series 5: Interview with Chris O

Category: Interview, Press Pack Article

Age: 32

Profession: Probation Service Officer

Hometown/Region: Sunderland

During the series, Chris has talked a lot about having been on the path to professional football when he was younger, playing at the Sunderland Academy Football Academy until he was 16.  However, around this time, his brother was killed in a motorbike accident and that’s when everything changed for Chris.

Chris’s grandfather was a navy seal and Chris’s idol who he has often been compared to.  Chris’s words, “the letters VW are not in my alphabet” show how determined he is to get to the end of the SAS: Who Dares Wins course. He wants to prove this to his family and especially his grandfather.

Tell me about your experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins? 

My experience during the SAS course was spectacular. It was physically gruelling but most of all mentally challenging. My body was in pain and had aches in places I didn’t know could happen, but my mind has never been so clear after spending time on the course and receiving the advice and guidance from the DS. All in all I set out to take part in the course to prove that I was in total control of my own emotions and my thoughts. I achieved this and more. I could understand how to assess my surroundings, my ability to tackle obstacles and to psychologically compose myself no matter what challenging situation presented itself. The activities and tasks left me in my element, embracing every single moment. The whole team and the DS were amazing and I will walk away from this a completely new person. I appreciate the viewers’ perspectives of what takes place but until you experience this yourself you will never understand the benefits or reasons why individuals such as myself want to go through it. The biggest learning experience of my entire life, I will take the lessons I have learned to my grave.

Did you find it difficult? Was it more difficult than you expected?

I found the course very difficult! I knew what I was up against but until you experience the sleep deprivation, the lack of food intake, the physical and psychological strain, no one can expect to pass the course. It was a lot harder than I ever imagined. The most difficult of the course was the wet and the cold. Unless you had the ability to switch off and put it to the back of your mind, even though you’re completely drained, you will suffer and you will not pass the course.

Were you surprised to find out this course was taking place in the home of the SAS – Scotland?

I was very surprised that the location turned out to be Scotland I was hoping to come back with a tan haha. In all seriousness though, although I was shocked.  Once told, I was honoured to be part of a training course which simulates the closest course to what the actual SAS had to complete themselves. When Ant Middleton explained it was their backyard, I then had a completely different outlook on Scotland. I can see why.  The surroundings, the environment, the terrain and conditions are more than perfect for the elite force to carry out their training.

How did you cope with the harsh Scottish weather conditions? Did the weather conditions play a part in how hard you found the course?

The weather conditions were the hardest I have ever encountered. The wind and the cold not only got inside your limbs, skin and organs, it got inside your mind. It made the course so difficult, it had me in fear each time I had to enter the water. I will be honest - I was happy it was cold rather than hot! I do believe I function better in cooler conditions rather than hot.

Did spending so much time in freezing water make the course more difficult for you?

Yes! The cold water was terrifying and this was the main aspect which really bothered me. I could see from observing all other recruits also that the cold water was the nightmare! It’s a place I never ever wish to return to.

You were the first recruits to take part in weapons training.  How did you find that?

The weapons training was an excellent part of the training. It was a great experience to feel what it is like to be in combat with such a powerful tool with such frightening capabilities. It also gave us recruits a better look and feel for what the actual SAS are up against. I loved it!

Have you ever done anything like this before?

No never! Although it was the toughest thing I have ever done, it was also the most spectacular.

What made you sign up?

I have had some skeletons in my closet for many years. I have struggled with mental health and the bereavement of my brother. Most of all I joined the course to finally figure out my own mind, my own thoughts and my own emotions. I am now more in control of these than I have ever been before.

What training did you do in preparation for this course?

I was hitting the gym lifting weights, boxing, using the treadmill, spinning but the most effective form of training I found beneficial was long distance running with 30kg on my back using a Bergen and boots.

Now that you have this experience, would you like to join the real Special Forces?

I would love to but unfortunately my age holds me back. I would love the experience and the physical challenges it consists of but I would also get home sick, which would not be suitable for me.

What was the best part of the series for you?

My favourite was the experience of abseiling. I also loved just being outside and being pushed, keeping busy continuously.  It is what I am all about.

What was the hardest part of the series for you?

The hardest part for me was when our hands were tied under the water fall and we had to submerge and bob up and down. My body was so tired and my lungs so tight.  That was the first time in the whole course I felt like I had failed.

Were you surprised to find one of your ‘fellow recruits’ was a mole?

Jay was amazing.  He played a great part and carried out his duty as the mole brilliantly.

Did getting to know Jay as a recruit make it difficult for you to have the same respect for him once he became one of the DS?

No not in the slightest. It had me respect the guy even more.

What were Ant, Foxy, Ollie, Billy and Jay like? 

They are all amazing people who I will always look up to and I will always listen to their advice. They can use one small sentence and make a whole world make sense. I have so much respect for these men - they deserve nothing but the best in life. AMAZING!!!

Would you ever do it again?

HELL YES! I would thrive on reliving this experience. I been have pushed to my limit and I came out at the other end a new person, a better person and now have such a greater knowledge of myself, it is hard to put in words. Take me back and bring it on!!