When Albury’s Titanium Woman signed up for the first series of Australia Ninja Warrior, she had no idea it was the obstacles she’d overcome off the course that would inspire those watching.
Five screws and a titanium rod in her spine earned Zoe Featonby her nickname, but her story also showed many people with scoliosis they could go on to achieve extraordinary feats.
Featonby said after the show aired she was contacted by many young women with scoliosis, or their mothers, who were “really scared” by the diagnosis, but had been inspired and reassured by her story.
“To hear how much of an impact I’ve had on those mothers and daughters [was amazing],” she said
Despite being very common scoliosis isn’t discussed much, Featonby said, so she was pleased she could shed light on the condition.
“I’m a little bit restricted in some activities I can do but I definitely don’t let it stop me from doing much,” she said.
“It was really nice to have those messages from other people because scoliosis is a very common condition and there are a lot of people out there that have had surgery done. But when you have that diagnosis, in that initial stage, it’s not like you’ll know four or five people who have had the surgery.
“So its important for them to be able to see this isn’t the end of the world, that there is life after surgery, you're still able to go on and exercise and get a university degree – it’s not going to impact on the rest of your life.
“It was really nice outcome, it was definitely one reason I wanted to apply for season two.”
Featonby said being a returning competitor was both an advantage and disadvantage.
“Last year I made it to fourth obstacle so the expectation is this year that’s a minimum standard for me, if I fall before that I’ll be very disappointed,” she said.
“You go into season one not knowing anything but season two you know what it feels like to step up on that stage, you know what it feels like to have commentators and a crowd and the enormous scale of the course.”
Season two airs tonight on Nine at 7pm.