Tonight on SAS Australia, with just 48 hours to go, Dan Ewing, 35; Jana Pittman, 38; John Steffensen, 38; Mark Philippoussis, 44; and Sam Burgess, 32, had to dig deep and embrace every remaining task in an effort to prove to the DS that they are worthy of passing SAS selection.
First up for the final five recruits was one of the most dangerous extraction methods in the Special Forces. Travelling on a high speed Zodiac, they had to dive into the water and swim against the hazardous downdraft of a chopper to a flimsy ladder, before hauling themselves up a terrifying 15 metre climb weighed down by their wet clothes and boots. Worse still, the task was to be complete in just 90 seconds without the safety of a harness.
All five recruits passed the strenuous task, including Jana, who became the first female ever to successfully complete the Ladder Troop Extraction on SAS selection.
John told the DS that it was the very first task he felt good about, “clear, calm and in control”, admitting later to Sam: “You know what I learnt with this, to pull up. I kind of feel like I found my purpose, like I really found it.
“I’ve never had limitations in my life, ever. Never. Full pelt everything, that was always the end result, aggression. But I realised it’s ok, it’s not weak. That’s what I got out of this. I’m feeling peace.”
In a grim test of the heart, recruits had to write death letters to their loved ones, and were overcome with emotion reading them out to each other.
Physically, psychologically and now emotionally drained, recruits then had to muster every ounce of strength for an extreme test of endurance – a merciless two kilometre assault course featuring several obstacles on water and land, designed to push them beyond their capabilities.
Forced to do lap after excruciating lap, the DS called an end to the task after a heavily fatigued Jana reached her limit and collapsed, telling the medic she was “super dizzy” and seeing spots. Asthma sufferer John also went down and needed to be treated with oxygen.
As the recovering recruits made their way back to camp, their car was hijacked by armed hostiles, who hooded and bound them.
Tuesday 7.30pm, the toughest test of their lives comes to a heart-stopping conclusion for the captured recruits. Which of the final five has done enough to pass SAS selection?