What happens when you place an up-and-coming scratch marker on an obstacle course in front of the entire nation?
You know the type. There’s one in every family … That person who constantly utters those famous six words – “I reckon I could do that” – while watching talent shows on television.
Most of the time it comes from the one person in the room who has absolutely no business attempting whatever “that” may be.
Other times they might actually possess the skills to replicate what they’re seeing – but they will never do anything about it.
Then there are people like Charlie Robbins; people who are brave enough to stick to their guns and back themselves in.
The 20-year-old – from Rye, Victoria – made the bold decision late last year to try and win the latest instalment of Australian Ninja Warrior, which was filmed in Melbourne and goes to air on Channel Nine from Monday, July 8.
RIGHT: Robbins will compete in full golf attire. Photos supplied by Channel Nine.
Viewers will watch as Robbins – dressed head to toe in his golf attire – attempts to overcome a series of challenging obstacles as quickly as possible by combining the mental lessons of golf with the physical benefits of gymnastics.
“When you’re doing the Ninja course, it’s just you up there and you’ve got to make your own decisions like you do on the golf course,” said Robbins, who plays off scratch out of Portsea Golf Club and has been into gymnastics since he was about three years old.
“Being used to being by yourself and making your own decisions and handling the pressure by yourself is very similar between golf and what we face on the show.”
The show – which is hosted by Ben Fordham, Rebecca Madden and Freddie Flintoff – has never seen anyone complete the grand-final course in its two previous seasons. But Channel Nine has promised fans that there will be at least some form of winner in 2019.
“When you’re doing the Ninja course, it’s just you up there and you’ve got to make your own decisions like you do on the golf course.” – Charlie Robbins
“If someone finishes the course they get $300,000 but if nobody finishes the course, whoever gets furthest fastest, we’ll throw $100,000 at them,” Fordham told news.com.au recently.
In order to be crowned ‘Australia’s First Ninja Warrior’, Robbins – or one of his fellow contestants – will have to successfully navigate two obstacle courses within the allocated time limit before getting the chance to tackle the notorious grand-final course, dubbed Mount Midoriyama.
Robbins, the reigning club champion at Portsea – who has “held golf clubs in his hands since he could walk” – explained why he decided to finally bite the bullet and apply for the show.
“I always liked watching highlights from the American show and then I watched seasons one and two in Australia because I’ve had a few mates that have been on there,” Robbins said.
“Everyone always watches it on the couch and says, ‘oh yeah, I could do that’, so I just want to see whether or not I actually can … Until you actually give something a go, you never know what you’re capable of.
“One of my mates got me into the idea of going on the show and we started training at this place about half-an-hour from where we live.”
The obstacles themselves are updated for each new series – and most are built over the safety of water. But old classics – such as the Warped Wall, which is essentially an elevated quarter pipe – are expected to be featured heavily in the new season of the show.
In fact, the fan-favourite will now have an older brother (which is five metres taller) called the “Mega Warped Wall” and will reward those who complete it with an added cash bonus of $5,000.
Robbins, an exercise and sports student with a handy knack for climbing trees, should prove suited to most of what the contestants are asked to tackle on Ninja Warrior. But he isn’t the type to get ahead of himself.
“Some obstacles are about agility and balance and then there’s a few that are based purely around power. Staying focused is probably one of my biggest strengths. One of my weaknesses will be whether or not I’m strong enough to actually do the obstacles. But I think I should be right for most of it,” said Robbins, careful not to give too much away.
Confident yet humble, with an interesting backstory to boot, Robbins was selected out of thousands of Ninja applicants to be one of this year’s contenders and has enjoyed plenty of support along the way.
“There was a bunch of written-interview stuff and phone calls and then there were fitness tests to get on the show,” Robbins said.
“I’m very lucky with my immediate family and grandparents – who are really supportive – so they were on the sidelines cheering me on.”
One of Robbins’ grandfathers, ‘Taffy’, caddies for him during competitive rounds and was partly responsible for introducing him to the game of golf at an early age.
“My grandparents bought me some of those little plastic clubs and then eventually we would go out onto the course and play a few holes here and there,” Robbins said.
“I got down to scratch when I was about 18. I did have aspirations to turn professional but those thoughts faded away until the last couple of months.” – Charlie Robbins
“I got down to scratch when I was about 18. I did have aspirations to turn professional but those thoughts faded away until the last couple of months. We will see what happens but I’ve still got a lot to figure out.”
Robbins probably sounds like your quintessential 20-year-old in that sense: He isn’t quite sure where or what it is he is supposed to be doing just yet. But perhaps that indecision comes from having an extensive bag of skills, the determination to succeed in life and the understanding that time is precious.
Spend 10 minutes with Charlie Robbins – or watch him throughout the upcoming season of Australian Ninja Warrior – and you will get to appreciate just about all of that.
“I’ve learned that time flies and that you have to make the most of your opportunities because the time is going to pass anyway,” Robbins said.
Season three of Australian Ninja Warrior will premiere on Monday, July 8, at 7:30pm on Channel Nine. Preview the new season here.