Former Bachelorette and current SAS Australia contestant Ali Oetjen prides herself on her mental resilience, but she has revealed she ‘definitely’ considered withdrawing from the gig days before filming after suffering a devastating personal blow.
The wellness coach split from Bachie boyfriend Taite Radley in July after two years together, and just one month later she was in NSW’s snowy mountains undergoing one of the world’s most arduous training programs.
She tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the timing saw her pack up her Ballarat life and relationship, and drive directly to NSW for the show where she was forced to isolate for two weeks ahead of the rest of the crew arriving.
Ali almost cancelled gig days before filming
She says left alone with her broken heart for two weeks, she was ‘definitely’ tempted to cancel the gig.
“During that isolation I was like, ‘What am I doing? I don’t care how I’m going to do in this course because I’m feeling so sh*t at the moment’,” she says
“I was just thinking, ‘How am I going to do this?’”
She says at one point she decided to withdraw, before changing her mind.
“It's not like me to give up,” she says.
Forging ahead in the competition, the 34-year-old hints that the experience derailed her run on the show, saying she went into the course that promised to ‘break’ her, already ‘broken down and so emotional’.
“I just felt like really disconnected and all over the place,” she reveals. “I really didn’t even get nervous leading up to the show because I wasn’t even thinking about it. I was just hurting.”
Ali a world away from Bachelorette seeking love
For a woman best known for looking for love with the whole nation watching during her time on the Bachelor franchise, the experience, and her mindset couldn’t have been more different this time around.
“I knew going into it it was completely different,” she says, adding: “I wasn’t looking for love at all... it was just an amazing opportunity to experience and test myself.”
Not that that stopped rumours flying that the blonde beauty and her curly-headed counterpart former Bachelor Nick Cummins hit it off during filming, with many Bachie fans hoping to see a Bachelor romance bloom amid the mud and tears, something Ali flatly dismisses.
She says there is no truth to the rumours ‘at all’, even adding the pair ‘didn’t chat much’.
“I find [the rumours] so funny and frustrating at the same time,” she says, but adds she felt prepared for them: “I kind of knew that was going to happen anyway.”
‘Masks come off’ during the show
As for her fellow contestants, the now Sunshine Coast-based coach hints there will be no shortage of short fuses and flying sparks on the episodes to come.
She says the dynamic between the gather celebrities went ‘both ways’ with bond forged, but tempers raw.
“[The trainging] strips everything away,” she says. “All your coats, all your masks come off and you really go back to your primal instincts almost.”
“All of it is very raw and very natural and genuine.”
She says because of this, people weren’t afraid to stand their ground with their teammates.
“For a lot of guys we all really tried to support each other. That's what we were told to do,” she says. “[But] at the same time you’re solely trying to survive so if someone is rubbing you up the wrong way you’re not going to be shy to say something.”