Hidden dark side of Ninja Warrior
OLIVIA Vivian has been one of the standout stars across three seasons of Australian Ninja Warrior - but it's come at a high personal cost, she now reveals.
Vivian has penned a candid personal essay for Athlete's Voice titled "Breaking a Family Curse", detailing at length the damage that gambling addiction has done to her family across several generations.
It's a fascinating look at her family's "curse" and how it's left her with a fraught relationship to gambling - an industry she says has still impacted her during her stint as the most successful female competitor in Australian Ninja Warrior.
Vivian reveals she "lost some friendships" after sports betting companies opened up markets for betting on Ninja Warrior.
"As the show was airing, I had friends harassing me for information on who had done well. It was another reminder of how desperate gambling can make people," she writes.
"Instead of reaching out to see how I was going and to catch up, it was about them getting information from me so they could win some easy money. They didn't respect the fact that I was under a nondisclosure agreement and stood to lose a great deal if I broke that contract.
More than that, it made me feel a bit sad that to them that's all our friendship was worth. There are so many things we could have had a laugh about but sure enough, after refusing to disclose the information, I never heard from them again."
Elsewhere in the article, Vivian opens up about her family's history with problem gambling in great detail - and admits she was nervous about sharing her story so publicly.
"I'll be honest, sharing this story isn't something I've done lightly. But I spoke to Mum about it first and we decided that sometimes you've got to drop your guard a little. You never know who your story might help," she writes.
Along with partner and fellow competitor Ben Polson, Vivian has become one of Australian Ninja Warrior's most popular competitors thanks to crowd-pleasing antics like her backflip up the notorious warped wall.
She put in a history-making effort in this year's semi-final but was left "heartbroken" after she "freaked out" while attempting the grand final course. She has vowed to return better than ever next year.
"I hope these ninjas getting out here and giving it their all can inspire others to give it a crack, give something new a go because you just don't know what road it's going to take you down," she said after her defeat.