Former Special Forces member Ant Middleton refers to dual Olympian Jana Pittman as a 'lioness' among the recruits on SAS Australia

SAS AUSTRALIA: Mondays, 7.30pm, Network 7 and 7PLUS

Warrior: Jana Pittman on location for SAS Australia. Photo: Jeremy Greive

Warrior: Jana Pittman on location for SAS Australia. Photo: Jeremy Greive

The first question I had to ask Jana Pittman was: "What could you possibly have to prove?" to consider enduring the hell that is SAS Australia.

She is, after all, a dual Olympian, (400 metre runner, hurdler and bobsleigh), a World and Commonwealth Games champion and mother of four, the last of whom was born in December 2020.

That was just five and a half months before putting herself through the gruelling ordeal of the physical and psychological tests taken from the SAS selection process.

"The night I left, we weren't told where we were going, and driving out of my driveway I thought 'what was I thinking?'," the 38-year-old says.

"In the first portion of the show I had normal mummy thoughts - would he [baby Charles] miss me too much. That was my biggest weakness.

"So I had to put aside any doubts, knowing I would only be away a maximum of 14 days and maybe as few as one depending on how I went."

One of the first ordeals after being subjected to tear gas, was stripping naked in front of everyone - the other 17 recruits, the four former Special Forces directing staff (DS), and the all invasive cameras.

"I found it really hard to undress. I was always really lean as an athlete and now after it being my fourth child at 38, I've got more bulk.

"But I think the worse thing is I had my lucky g-string on that I had as an athlete. I think I should have retired it when I retired."

Pittman admits to being and adrenaline junky.

"I love hiking. Sometimes I would take the kids, with my second daughter on my back and the baby on the front."

But she says it was her mental toughness that she had to rely on in the SAS challenge more than usual.

"They [the DS] really expect you to pull your head in and do as you're told. You are a team player and your vulnerabilities become your strengths.

"I thought the physical aspect would be fine, but I had to push past my pain barrier so many times," Pittman says.

The promos for SAS Australia show her fainting.

"I reached my capacity, I remember getting close [to blacking out] but I had never fainted before. I remember Ant [chief instructor Ant Middleton] catching me, then nothing."

One of things that fascinated Pittman is the mental toughness, camaraderie and collegiate aspect of the SAS forces.

"When I did the bobsled [for the 2014 Olympic Games] there were three or four members in the team, so I loved it for the team aspect.

"But on the international athletic circuit there might only be two other Australians at the meets, and at the Olympics it's only a week of athletics so it can be a fairly solitary life."

She says the SAS Australia experience gave her a chance to reflect without mobiles and external noise bombarding her.

"It gave me a bit of peace around my sports career and a perspective going forward.

"I've gone back part-time at work, whereas normally I'd be full time guns blazing. But that's not conducive to a happy life.

"I always thought the drama side of me was a weakness.

"Mindset is definitely a part of what I took away from it [doing SAS]. It was a very humanising experience.

"Some of the experiences are extraordinarily lifechanging. I thought I was going to die in the drowning vehicle test."

Pittman took on the role of team medic during filming as she is now a junior doctor at a Sydney suburban hospital.

"As kids I always wanted to be a doctor and my brother loved playing soldier. He joined the army straight out of school.

"I wanted to do something after sport and now I am privileged to work in what I love."

Her specialty will be gynaecology and women's health.

The ofther recruits: Alicia Molik, Bonnie Anderson, Brynne Edelsten, Dan Ewing, Heath Shaw, Isabelle Cornish, Jessica Peris, Jett Kenny, John Steffensen, Kerri Pottharst, Koby Abberton, Manu Feildel, Mark Philippoussis, Pete Murray, Sam Burgess.