Baden is a man of many hats. Not only is he a green-jersey Tour de France Winner and an Olympic cyclist, he’s also a business owner and a father of two young daughters – who bring out a soft spot in him.
“My youngest daughter Harlow was hysterical in tears watching Daddy get voted off,” he laughed.
“Both my daughters are big fans of the show, so my motivation was to go on for them.
“The hardest thing about the show was not being able to talk to them … they were what made it so hard being away,” he reflected.
WATCH BELOW: Australian Survivor: Baden Cooke speaks to his daughters after elimination. Story continues below...
It was watching his friend – two-time castaway Mat Rogers – on Survivor that ultimately led Baden to do the show. Although a brawny guy with a very athletic history, he was ultimately sorted into the Brains team, which didn’t surprise him.
“In cycling, you cannot win anything without being tactically quite clever and cunning, and I think I was chosen for Brains for being cunning and clever strategically,” Baden explained.
However, no amount of cycling, or chats with his good friend Mat, were able to prepare Baden for the experience of Survivor.
“The mental suffering I went through was a lot more than I expected,” he said with a gentle laugh.
“There’s no way to escape it … if you’re riding the Tour de France you can at least have a hot meal, a massage, a glass of wine, and sleep in a nice bed at night,” he reminisced.
“It’s similar that you’re in a bubble, but you can’t – in Survivor you can’t escape the bubble – there’s nowhere to go, there’s nowhere to hide, there’s no reprieve.
“You’re powerless to change your circumstances other than in the game. If you’re hungry, or cold, or a bit over it you can’t really change that. It is really a mental game.”
Despite the incredible level of challenges he faced during filming, Baden still seems to love the show, and would definitely come back for an All Stars round if invited.
“I think my strategy would be similar but I would just go in with a different attitude, and knowing what to expect I don’t think it would be as tough, and I think I could go further,” he mused.
As for this season, he would love to see his closest friend in the game, Andrew, go all the way.
“He hasn’t really been too prominent in the show so far, but he’s a survival expert, and he’s a great competitor – he’s very intelligent,” Baden explained.
Andrew has mostly flown under the radar thus far this season, but with Baden’s backing, we might just see more of him in the weeks to come.
“As the game progressed he became more and more cunning.
“He’s a really big character, and I really like him and I hope he goes all the way.”