Aussie Olympian James Magnussen has been praised for an incredible act of sportsmanship after he was brutally rejected at the finish line of SAS Australia.
Despite completing the gruelling two-week course, the 29-year-old was told he wouldn’t pass the selection course in the final moments of Tuesday night’s finale.
The Directing Staff (DS) made the ruling he hadn’t opened up enough and they wouldn’t want to go into battle alongside him.
“The ultimate question that we ask ourselves, would we have you in our team? You’re stood here, so you succeeded in your own right, feel proud of that, but not all of you have passed this course,” chief instructor Ant Middleton said.
Magnussen, who detailed his struggles to open up emotionally during the program, was then told to hand over his number seconds before three fellow contestants celebrating their incredible achievement.
Fellow contestant Merrick Watts stayed with Magnussen on the first night out of the show and witnessed his classy response to the setback first hand.
“It was the best act of sportsmanship I have ever seen. He was never angry or upset about the DS’s decision not to select him,” Watts told 7NEWS.com.au.
“He took full responsibility for what happened and he never complained, not once.
“That’s actually what made me believe even further that he deserved to pass the course. It was amazing to witness how he reacted to that setback.”
The comedian suggested Magnussen’s reaction to the crushing setback set him apart from others on the show who refused to take accountability.
“It’s the measure of the man that he was happy to cop it on the chin, that he copped that HE was the reason for what happened. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault,” Watts said.
“There’s a lot of people who would have looked for anyone or anything else to blame, but James just accepted it completely.
“It was just incredible to see, it’s one of the most amazing displays that I witnessed on the show.”
Watts, who was one of only three contestants to complete the course, explained that he was shattered when he learned his mate had missed out.
“When he (Magnussen) handed his number over I was just shattered and I thought none of us were safe, I thought I was gone for sure, and that only one person would be selected at the end,” Watts said.
“When I found out I made it through I was so thrilled for all three of us. It’s just a massive wave of relief and I was just so proud of what I’d achieved.
“I gave absolutely everything to that course, I gave everything I had emotionally, physically, on a private level – there was absolutely nothing left of me by the end – and I actually think that’s why they (DS) selected me.”
Both Magnussen and Watts formed a close relationship during filming of the show, with the pair catching up on numerous occasions since.
‘Unseen brutality of SAS Australia’
Watts also revealed the ‘unseen brutality’ about competing on SAS Australia.
The Aussie comedian, who was one of the only three contestants to pass the gruelling course, told 7NEWS.com.au that food deprivation was perhaps the most brutal aspects of the course.
“Food deprivation is an unseen brutality we lived with. We were always hungry,” Watts said.
“To be honest breakfast was gruel, it was just porridge.
“For lunch we had a bowl of soup, a bread roll and a mandarin (these were treated like gold) and meat with rice or vegetables for dinner.
“No salt, no pepper, no sauces at any stage.”
To make matters worse for Watts and the other contestants, the rations were cut down even further in the second week of filming, as the Directing Staff looked to push the recruits to their absolute limits.
“In the second week it started becoming really spartan, we were definitely being calorie restricted,” Watts said.
“We were given minimal quantities of everything and it left us constantly thinking and talking about food and how starving we were. It really became extremely tough.”
The 47-year-old explained that the food rations, coupled with the intense physical challenges, left his body ruined by the completion of filming.
“I started the show at 82.5kg and by the end of it I was 76kg – so I lost about six kilograms by the end,” Watts told 7NEWS.com.au.
“What’s interesting is I burnt off all my fat in the first six or seven days, then it just started eating away at all my muscle, that’s why we all looked so gaunt and thin by the end of the show.”