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Channel 4's SAS: Who Dares Wins S5 graduate, James Priestley talks about his preparation for the hardest course on TV, his tips to improve mental toughness and how Transformers helped him through the toughest of interrogations.

Follow James: @James_Priestley_

SAS Who Dares Wins

Could you give a little bit of information and background about yourself and your journey and what has led you to compete on the show?

I was born and raised in Bradford and have moved around different cities all my life. I am settled in Leeds and have been for the last 6 years. I set up my business 10 years ago and have had the luxury of freedom ever since. The reason for competing on the show was to better know myself in addition to putting myself in an environment completely outside of my control.

Why did you want to test yourself on the show?

I believe that a human will never know their true limits until they step outside their comfort zone. The only way to see what your body and mind can truly withstand is to totally submerge yourself in an uncomfortable environment.



What did you find was the toughest point on the show and how did you manage to keep moving forward to the end?

The toughest point for me was the stress positions during the torture/interrogation phase. The pain gets worse by the second and last an eternity. You have to occupy your mind with something else, for me, it was to watch my favourite film, Transformers, in my head! 

How do you define mental toughness?

I believe mental toughness has two definitions. 

One is by a human's ability to endure physical pain when your body is experiencing muscular or actual damage. It’s your ability to take control of your thoughts when the natural defence mechanism is screaming at you to stop!

The second is how you bounce back from loss or failure. Do you have the mental strength to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and just keep moving forward?

James Priestley SAS Who Dares Wins

Do you have any tips for people looking to improve their mental toughness?

You are always in control. In most circumstances, the more you feel out of control is usually the times that you are most in control of the outcome. It’s just your perspective that needs to change for you to look at the situation differently.

How did you physically prepare yourself for the course? 

I trained every single morning at 6am for 4-5 months with my best mate outside on the fields. We both studied the previous series and tailored our workout to the beastings and challenges that the DS put the recruits through. Beep test, army crawl, running with weights, fireman's carry, swimming, hill sprints, etc.

How do you keep the motivation going and stay committed to your goals?

Thriving on improvement really motivates me. Logging my times, weights and distances from the first workout and comparing this to the second week and so on and so on. Witnessing the progression and seeing the formula work is really motivational.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I listen to motivational speeches on youtube. Nothing longer than 10 minutes. Something that really grips you and fuels your adrenaline.

Ant Middleton SAS Who Dares Wins

What are your plans for the future?

I will continue to build my business empire however, I want to give back to the world and show people who believe they are weak, that they are actually strong. I also want to accomplish something that no-one has ever done before by breaking a world record. I have been planning something for a while and will release my plan to the public soon.

Finally, can you share your most valued motivational quote?

“A human’s character is not judged by how they celebrate a victory, but how they react to a severe loss, for the 100th time.”


The Fear Bubble - Ant Middleton

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