Somewhere near Rye back beach there’s a human monkey just hanging around. Hanging at the beach, at a mate’s place or at the gym or down the street. You might see him jumping off the rocks at the end of St Johns Wood Rd in Blairgowrie, or a bit farther down the Peninsula in Portsea playing a round of golf with his grandpa, Taffy, or in the clubhouse when the wind whips across the course and the light grows dim.
Charlie Robbins likes climbing high and going upside-down. This 20-year-old Rye resident has just come away with 100 grand after being crowned the 2019 Australian Ninja Warrior ‘furthest and fastest’ contestant, and the smell of physical televisual success is certainly sweet. He explains: “I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was in second grade and have always loved climbing, hanging and flipping my body. I’ve played a lot of sport, including cricket, basketball and footy too. My grandparents are golfers and I began playing with them when I was about 10 years old. That’s why I wore the golf outfit for Australian Ninja Warrior.
“I’d applied for the second season of the show and didn’t get in, but this time there were a few of us from Rye who made it. It was a bit of a long process. You start off with an online application, then you have to send a video, do a phone interview and finally go through a fitness test, which is full of push-ups and burpees. It’s gruelling. We filmed the third season of the show from mid-November for three weeks last year. It’s not like it looks like on TV, that’s for sure. I was so nervous.”
Seems Rye breeds them strong and just a little bit ninja with a twist of ‘she’ll be right mate’ swagger. Charlie is laid-back yet determined. No fuss, yet happy to be on the ‘box’. He’ll be heading off to Europe with his mate, Zac, at the end of September to spend some of that prizemoney.
He continues: “It’s crazy, really. I remember standing at the first obstacle, the steps, thinking, ‘Man, they are so big!’ When you’re on the couch at home you think they look small and it will be easy, but it’s a different story once you get there and you’ve been waiting out back for a couple of hours for your turn. We played a lot of table tennis. I was shaking when I finally got to do my run at 1.30am, but having my family on the sidelines supporting me was fantastic. The whole crowd was amazing. The salmon ladder obstacle was my favourite and the doors were definitely the hardest. You’ve got to have really strong legs and I’ve got chicken legs.
“There were five of us from the Peninsula this season and I applied in a group of four. The best part was hanging out with the other contestants. I met so many cool people but none of us made it up the mega wall in the finals. It’s over 5m tall. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the rest of the money yet. Wait and see.”
This gymnastics coach and golfing natural — he’s the club champion at Portsea Golf Club and plays off scratch — has plenty to occupy his time upon returning from Europe. He’ll be playing in the Portsea Open before taking off and he’ll be landing in Brisbane for another Australian Ninja Warrior competition in September post-trip. The beginning of November sees him in Perth for more ninja antics.
He concludes: “I’ll probably start playing more golf, I reckon. I stopped after I finished school and had a gap year but I’m keen to get out on the course again. And I’d love to be part of the next season of Australian Ninja Warrior if they’ll have me.”
Chicken legs and monkey business aside, this young man’s set to swing and do his thing. Ninja style. Australian Ninja Warrior screens on the Nine Network.