A STUDENT pushed her mind and body to the limit as she overcame psychological and physical challenges to win a gruelling TV show.

Paige Zima, 26, tested her physical, mental and emotional resilience in the latest series of SAS: Who Dares Wins.

The Teesside University student was among a group of 20 new recruits who confronted several brutal tasks set by ex-special forces operators in the Jordanian desert.

Ms Zima faced intense interrogation, hand-to-hand combat, a cliff freefall and a room full of CS gas during the series to prove she has what it takes to pass the recreated special forces selection test.

After losing her father to suicide in 2019, Paige signed up for the show to challenge herself, break down barriers and empower others, and was thrilled to have passed the course to win alongside fellow competitor Shylla Duhaney.

She said: “Winning the show has been life changing. I now believe in myself more than I could ever describe.

“When you come from nothing and life has beaten you down in so many ways, it’s easy to fall victim, feel sorry for yourself and convince yourself you’ll remain where you are. Winning reassures my belief that I can and will move forward in life.

“I had been faced with multiple mental challenges throughout my life and nothing seemed to break me. I began to realise I was cut from a different cloth with my mindset, my resilience and sheer determination to push forward no matter what.

“I wanted to be broken down to the absolute core on this show to reveal that something inside of me that wouldn’t allow me to make excuses or give up. I wanted to be challenged in all aspects of my life to be able to learn and utilise these every day after.

“My experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins was horrifically phenomenal. It was gruelling, it was physically and mentally painful, but I thrived. I loved knowing I was developing and learning each day. It empowered me to feel strong and capable.”

Read more: Darlington family's tribute to dad who died after cardiac arrest

The Northern Echo: Ms Zima faced intense interrogation, hand-to-hand combat, a cliff freefall and a room full of CS gas during the seriesMs Zima faced intense interrogation, hand-to-hand combat, a cliff freefall and a room full of CS gas during the series

As the youngest female finalist of SAS: Who Dares Wins this year, Paige hopes to have empowered audiences by sharing her journey.

She added: “I have received so many wonderful messages from all ages and all walks of life saying I have inspired them – some have even told me watching my story has literally saved their lives.

“I hope to inspire the younger generation to be strong, educated and fierce with everything they set their mind to.

“I also hope that any female watching the series feels empowered and able to pursue any role they wish to go into. I went back to university and followed my dreams; I encourage anyone to do the same whatever that may be.”

Having won SAS: Who Dares Wins while completing her studies and being a proud single parent, Paige is ready to take on her next challenge. She plans to walk from Durham to Scotland in a 240-mile sponsored hike before climbing Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, to raise money and awareness for men’s mental health.

Paige has also successfully secured a place on the Police Now national graduate programme, a paid two-year training route leading to a qualification and a career in policing which she will begin once she has completed her studies.

“I feel a massive sense of accomplishment. I have spent pretty much my whole life in education and to finally reach the end of this chapter feels amazing,” said Paige.

“I have so many opportunities and avenues available to me now for when I’ve completed my degree in forensics, and I can’t wait to put my education to use.

“I hope to join the National Crime Agency, working at the forefront of law enforcement and building intelligence to serious and organised crime.”

Watch Paige on SAS: Who Dares Wins here: channel4.com/programmes/sas-who-dares-wins


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