Who is Sabre? Meet the Gladiator from Dundee and what has she has said about starring in the show

The gym owner and weightlifter has a pretty impressive pedigree to take on the physical challenges of Saturday night television.
Sabre owns a gym in Dundee.Sabre owns a gym in Dundee.
Sabre owns a gym in Dundee.

Gladiators is back on our television screens for the first time in 15 years, and one of the fearsome figures contestants must confront will be a familiar face to many Dundoneons.

Sabre was unveiled as one of the Gladiators in the first episode of the series on Saturday, January 13.

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Here's everything you need to know about the programme's sole Scottish representative.

What is Sabre's real name?

Sabre's real name is Sheli McCoy. She's a 35-year-old who originally comes from Windsor, in England, but who now lives in Dundee after going to university to study for a Masters at Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University. She is 5ft 7ins (170cm) tall.

What is Sabre's day job?

Sheli is an experienced personal trainer who specialises in CrossFit and weightlifting, as well as being a qualified sports rehabilitation therapist. She runs Dundee's SweatBox gym alongside former professional ice hockey player Sam McCluskey, who represented Dundee Stars.

What other relevant Gladiator experience does Sabre have?

Sheli/Sabre has competed for Scotland around the world in weightlifting and CrossFit competitions - including five British Weightlifting Championships. She set three new Scottish records at last year's Scottish Weightlifting Championships and ranked 104th out of over 23,000 participants in the 2023 CrossFit championships.

What kind of competitor is Sabre?

The show's creators describe Sabre as follows: "Sabre is playful, athletic, energetic, but with a killer instinct! She loves to encourage a good game and see the contenders do well…up to a certain point. But it's her game to win and after playing with you for a while, she’ll take you down."

What has she said about appearing in Gladiators?

On social media, she announced her part in the programme by saying: “It’s with a full heart I can finally say out loud – I am a Gladiator. I truly hope Sabre will inspire and empower the younger generation of strong capable females just as the gladiators I once watched inspired me to be a confident athletic women. It’s a dream come true. I’ll be taking part in the old, iconic games my mum and I once watched and I can’t wait to attack the new ones with her watching.”

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Here's what Sabre had to say in an interview to launch the series:

Why did you want to become a Gladiator? It wasn't that I set out to become a Gladiator - Gladiator life chose me.  I have always set out to be the best version of myself, whether that's in health, fitness, as a representative to younger females. Ultimately, I did think I was waiting on something, I didn't know it would be as amazing as Gladiators though!

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The expectations on your performance level are huge - with the Gladiators seen as superhuman. Were you confident that you could deliver? Deliver a world class athletic performance, on demand in front of millions of people, against someone I've never met and have no clue as to whether they would be an absolute machine or not? I had no doubt I could it!  I trust my body and I know what my ability is, based on 10 years of training. I trust my body to do what I ask it to do. I was just hoping my brain would engage… it did.

Did you watch the original Gladiators TV show? I was a very little, hopeful girl and my mum and dad loved Gladiators. I would get my hair washed on a Saturday and sit down and my mum would brush and plait my hair while we all watched Gladiators. I remember Powerball, The Wall. I remember Jet and Lightning, and Nightshade. And I genuinely remember feeling that these women were superheroes; they were the female version of Superman and everyone loved them. I remember thinking that I didn't think women were allowed to be sporty and into fitness and have muscles and win and be unapologetically athletic, and that's what they were, these women were unapologetically athletic. The men were huge too. Hunter was like my Ken doll but double the size. I remember thinking that they were the gods in the world and somehow the TV had found them, and it was doing a game show with them. But I was very, very inspired by the athletic women. And I remember thinking, if only that was possible for me.

How can I watch Sabre in Gladiators?

The second episide of Gladiators is on BBC One at 5.50pm on Saturday, January 20. You can catch up with all episodes on the BBC iPlayer.

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