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Australian Survivor 2019: Nova Peris Knows She's A Threat

There's no denying Nova Peris belongs on the Champions tribe.

There are few people in the world who can reach massive success at the Olympics in two different sports -- let alone follow that up by becoming the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the federal parliament for the senate in the Northern Territory -- but Nova? Well, she DID THAT.

Did we mention she was also awarded Young Australian of The Year in '97, as well as receiving a medal for the Order of Australia?

It would be hard to recognise her as anything other than a major, major threat, and Nova knew that going in.

Speaking to 10 daily over the phone, she laughed.

"You know what, I went in with a game plan, and it didn't work!" she exclaimed.

Nova elaborated: "Having all those experiences, I felt that it was probably intimidating for others, and going in there, I knew that my personality was going to be overbearing, the fact that I was physically strong was also going to be intimidating or that was going to be a threat."

She sighed. "It was asked of me, 'what's gonna be detrimental to my own game plan?' and the first thing I said was, 'being so outspoken and having such a big personality'."

Noting she's been outspoken her "whole life", Nova explained she "can't just sit by and watch something unfold if [she feels she has to" speak about it", laughing:

"and... yeah. That happened a few times".

From our conversation, it seemed Nova's biggest concern in the game was loyalty -- those who were, and those who weren't.

"There were a handful of us who were ex-elite sportspeople, and it was interesting, because for us, loyalty was so important," she said, explaining sporting culture had a lot to do with that.

"You have to be loyal to your teammates, you have to be loyal to your coach, you have to be loyal to the people that you're in that team with, and it was just interesting how there was that handful of us that thought the same way, even though we were in a team of Champions," she mused, with perhaps a wink of drama to come.

"What really surprised me was how people could actually look you in the eye and just lie, just straight to your face! I don't like that, and then instead of owning that, they'd rather make an excuse or try to throw someone else under the bus to detract from their own lies."

She added:

"There were a lot of contradictions in conversations that went on -- I think it's gonna shock a few people with how things played out!"

Certainly not one to play down her strengths, physically or mentally, Nova was still surprised to find herself able "to get up and keep going and going and going".

"It allows you to sort of do a bit of soul searching but also being able to dig deep as a human being and persevere, I suppose," she shared, adding she was surprised by how much she enjoyed the challenges.

"I hadn't had that thrill of being able to really push myself since the Sydney Olympics," she explained.

"I still keep myself fit, I go to the gym, I train with my kids, I coach my son, and so for me to actually have that adrenaline rush, I haven't had that for a long, long time, so that was amazing."

She laughed: "Oh my God, you're gonna die when you see the first episode! I surprised myself, I was like 'oh my God, how the fuck did I just do that?'"

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Physical challenges and personality clashes aside, Nova's motivation to sign up for 'Australian Survivor' was actually a far more personal desire to experience what it was like to live off the land.

"I was inspired by the theme of NAIDOC week last year, which was ‘Because of her, we can’," she shared.

After reflecting on the lived experiences of her family's matriarchs as members of the Stolen Generations, Nova said it was her grandmother's story that inspired her on her own 'Survivor' journey.

"My grandmother, when she was 12, from 12 to 15, she was on a mission and the white people sort of left all these children to fend for themselves when the war hit the top end of Australia," Nova shared.

"So she spoke about being pretty much alone in the Kimberley as a small girl and having to live off the land, and I thought ‘my God, if my Nanna can do that for a good three years of her life, it can’t be that hard'."

She continued: "I wanted to challenge myself and from that aspect, because it’s as close an experience you can sort of get to being off the grid, from all forms of communication, you’ve got limited food resources, and you’ve got to build a shelter and sleep in it."

Having such a personal motivation, Nova said she was less nervous about how she'd survive, and more "excited", because she'd prepared herself to "not have expectations over anything".

"I went in there eyes wide open, heart wide open, knowing that I had to embrace and experience whatever is thrown at me," she said.

"I might not be able to control that situation but I’ve just gotta be able to control the way I react to circumstance. So yeah, I actually thrived in that, I really enjoyed not having any forms of communication and sleeping on a palm frond on a dirt floor. It was an amazing experience."

'Australian Survivor: Champions Vs Contenders' returns soon, only on 10 and WIN Networks.

Feature image: 10