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Jodie Ounsley swaps rugby ball for pugil stick on Gladiators reboot

By PA
Sale wing Jodie Ounsley makes a break during the Allianz Premier 15s between Darlington Mowden Park Sharks and Sale Sharks Women at Darlington Arena on October 09, 2021 in Darlington, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Exeter winger Jodie Ounsley will swap Premier 15s rugby for life as ‘Fury’ on the TV series Gladiators.

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The Dewsbury-born 22-year-old, the first deaf player to represent England’s sevens side, has been cast on the BBC’s rebooted version of the show, which will be screened later this summer.

Former Loughborough University student Ounsley, who had a cochlear implant as a young child, is also a former British Brazilian jiu-jitsu title-holder and a five-time World Coal Carrying champion.

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She told BBC Sport: “I’m buzzing. Watching Gladiators growing up, I was always in awe of their strength and power and now I am one.

“I hope contenders are ready to feel the ‘Fury’.”

Ounsley was unveiled as one of the first two Gladiators on the BBC’s The One Show on Wednesday night alongside ‘Steel’, CrossFit athlete Zack George, who won the title of the UK’s Fittest Man in 2020.

The series was first screened in Britain in 1992 on ITV, with contestants from the general public competing against Gladiators in a series of events that test speed, stamina and strength.

Gladiators ran on ITV until early 2000 and was revised by Sky for two series in 2008 and 2009.

The BBC’s revamped version will be hosted by Bradley and Barney Walsh and filming is scheduled to begin in Sheffield in June.

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Ounsley was voted Deaf Sports Personality of the Year in 2018 and was included in the GB Women rugby sevens provisional squad for the 2020 Olympics.

She has scored two tries in six appearances for the Chiefs, who are top of the Premier 15s table, making her debut in November last year after joining from Sale the previous summer.

Her father Phil, a former professional mixed martial artist, appeared as a contestant on Gladiators in 2008.

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