Last night’s Australian Survivor finale made history for reasons we don’t usually expect from a reality TV program.
Not only was it the first time two female contestants were the final survivors standing, but winner, Olympic champion Shane Gould, made her mark as the oldest contestant to take out the title.
With five votes to four, the 61-year-old gold medal swimmer was crowned Sole Survivor – defeating criminal barrister Sharn Coombes and pocketing half a million dollars.
But she says the biggest win, perhaps, is that she may have paved the way for more women her age to “push back against social pressures to slip out of sight”.
“We need to keep our visibility and fight for our place in society. We’re just different. We have different levels of creativity and contribution – and you need that in society – not just the youthful energy,” Shane told Mamamia.
When asked if she thinks she’s inspired women her age, she said, “It wasn’t my intention.”
“But if that’s the outcome – fantastic. I’ve got three sisters in their fifties and they’re encouraged by my experience. I said look – you’ve all got abilities, you’ve just got to find a place to apply them. It might be totally out of your comfort zone,” she added.
The Olympian and mother of four was one of 24 contestants who spent several gruelling – and hungry – weeks on the Fijian island of Savusavu, surviving on rice and beans and competing in physically and mentally demanding challenges each week. But the final week came down to just three: Sharn Coombes, Shane Gould and AFL star Brian Lake.
Far from being a hindrance, Shane believes it was her age that gave her an edge against the other contestants, and led to her win.
“People are probably more capable in their older years, because they use their life experiences. We have the ability to adapt, adjust and rebound,” she said, adding that she thinks “older women are underestimated”.