Wesley Male Gladiators: Viewers praise 'warrior' Leeds contender after gruelling battle in BBC One final

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A Leeds wrestler has missed out on the Gladiators crown after a tense final showdown.

After 11 weeks of gruelling challenges on the BBC One show, Wesley Male was beaten by Finlay Anderson in the male competition, while Marie-Louise Nicholson triumphed over Bronte Jones.

Wesley, an admin officer for the Ministry of Defence, started head-to-head with Finlay in the final eliminator. But Finlay, of Edinburgh, ran faster to the top of the travelator and burst through the paper to become champion.

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And speaking to presenter Bradley Walsh, Wesley confirmed he had picked up an injury towards the end of the final challenge.

He said: “I got a bit excited on the zipline and I felt my hamstring [go] when I landed."

Finlay and Wesley will go head to head in the Gladiators final (Photo: BBC / James Stack / © Hungry Bear Media Ltd)Finlay and Wesley will go head to head in the Gladiators final (Photo: BBC / James Stack / © Hungry Bear Media Ltd)
Finlay and Wesley will go head to head in the Gladiators final (Photo: BBC / James Stack / © Hungry Bear Media Ltd) | BBC / James Stack / © Hungry Bear Media Ltd

Bradley said the Leeds contender had been an "absolute warrior".

To reach the final, the contenders had to do battle against the show’s 16 Gladiators in games testing strength, speed and dexterity that continue to be family favourites from previous versions of the programme.

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Wesley entered the competition in the quarter-finals, replacing Doncaster’s Finley Burkitt who had suffered a knee injury and was unable to continue.

The 35-year-old triumphed in last week’s semi-final against Welsh civil engineer Matt Jones, who had replaced the injured Chung Leung half-way through the competition.

Wesley said that appearing on the reboot and making the final showdown had been a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.

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He told the BBC: “Being able to perform on one of my favourite TV Shows, in Sheffield Arena (I’ve attended many times as a wresting fan), in front of family and friends in the Gladiators Final will be something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Gladiators fans have called for some changes ahead of the new series reportedly being filmed in Sheffield this AugustGladiators fans have called for some changes ahead of the new series reportedly being filmed in Sheffield this August
Gladiators fans have called for some changes ahead of the new series reportedly being filmed in Sheffield this August | Hungry Bear Media Ltd/BBC

Viewers were quick to praise Wesley for continuing with the eliminator despite his injury.

Posting on X, Andrew Jazzie said: "Well done Wesley. The chance to win had gone (as by the look of it had the hamstring) but that “never say die” effort at the end was fantastic.

While Kieran said: "Credit where credit is due for Wesley. An injury at the final balance beam ended the dream, but he has been a fantastic runner-up."

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The final programme on Saturday also saw personal trainer Nicholson enter The Eliminator with a two-second head start on firefighter Jones and emerge victorious.

The 28-year-old told host Bradley Walsh: “Bronte was on my tail the whole time, what a competitor to go up against, she was so close to the end there. I think we’re both winners in my eyes.”

It was announced earlier this week that Gladiators will return for a second series, with Kalpna Patel-Knight, head of entertainment at the BBC saying: “It has been wonderful to hear how much families have loved watching this together, as part of the BBC’s Saturday evening entertainment offering. We can’t wait for more action from the Gladiators.”

The first season was hosted by Walsh and his son Barney and filmed at the Sheffield Arena, although it has now been confirmed if they will return for the second series.

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The season one Gladiators were called Sabre, Legend, Nitro, Diamond, Phantom, Athena, Bionic, Fire, Giant, Dynamite, Viper, Electro, Apollo, Comet, Steel and Fury, and came from sports and fitness backgrounds.

Gladiators was originally broadcast from 1992 to 2000 on ITV before being resurrected by Sky between 2008 and 2009.

The BBC began showing its first series earlier this year.

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