After endurance athlete Samantha 'Sam' Gash, 32, was eliminated from Australian Survivor on Sunday's episode, her strategic partner, former special operations commander Mark Wales, 37, followed suit on Monday night, ousted by their rival Asana power couple Henry Nicholson and Jacqui Patterson.
However, Gash and Wales now have each other, confirming their off-screen relationship with the statement, "It's been nice to get to know each other outside the game. We are now in a relationship."
Whilst both wish they were still competing for the title of sole Survivor, they are equally happy to watch the action from home in Melbourne. WHO caught up with Sam and Mark for an update.
Q: In the game, you were seen as a power couple. Was there a way to shake that perception?
Sam: Jacqui and Henry, on most nights, slept away from the shelter by themselves and Mark and I chose every night to sleep in the shelter with everyone else, so we thought it was much more threatening to be off on your own because you could talk about anything. And Luke and Jericho would often run around at night time and now it's obvious it's because they were on a sugar high because of the cookies! I think the problem was that we were strong players who were not willing to be sheep.
Q: What about your relationship was worth pursuing away from the game?
Sam: I mean, he's my No. 1 alliance, the one I could trust, and so everyone kind of reconnects once you finish the game and it's the time to kind of discover who the person really is without cameras and have open, candid conversations and just through that, I guess we developed an early alliance and a friendship into something a bit more romantic.
Mark: I think we're both interested in pushing the envelope, or we both think we're capable of it, so that's really great. She's not one to sit there and let life kind of go by. She's done a lot of things that have put her out of her comfort zone and because of that, she's grown to a great level as soon as we started.
Q: Did you expect to fall in love on Survivor?
Sam: I never expected going on the show for that to develop. It was not my intention, but I guess that's a really positive thing for me to come out with.
Mark: It's been a pleasant surprise. I think being on Survivor has been great for both of us because we've had a big life outside of it, so for both of us, it's been a cool experience.
Q: Is it surreal to watch yourselves on TV?
Sam: Oh, there are definitely some cringe moments like, 'It wasn't like that!' As we canoodle on the couch and go, 'This is what it's really like now!' And we just have to laugh about it because it's hilarious. We weren't in a romantic relationship at the time but obviously we saw something in each other that was trustworthy and hey, if you're going to align yourself with anybody on that tribe, I think I chose a pretty good guy to do it with!
Mark: It's funny to experience it a second time over. I've never seen myself in a social situation so it's funny even seeing that again. I didn't realise how quiet I was until I saw that. I was really tense in that group! I'm kind of an introverted person, but it's been really cool watching it and being able to debrief with Sam.
Q: What do your family and friends think of all that's transpired?
Sam: My parents think it's hilarious and they love Mark. They think he's a really great guy. And both my mum and my dad sent me these sweet messages afterwards going, 'You might have been out of the game but you left with dignity!'
Q: What's next for both of you?
Sam: I'm not a practicing lawyer any more. Now I'm a corporate speaker and an endurance athlete. At the end of last year, I did a 77-day run from the west to east of India as a World Vision ambassador, so exploring the barriers to why children across the country aren't able to access quality education, so raised just a bit under $200,000 to fund six education programmes within India, so that's kind of how I spend my time now as opposed to being in the legal eagle world.
Mark: I left the military and went to business school in Philadelphia, so I had two years to kind of study and make my transition to civilian life from the military. I knew I wanted to do my own work when I left but I was pretty inexperienced, so I went and joined a consulting firm called McKinsey and I started my own fashion label (Kill Kapture) while I was at business school. I've been chipping away at it for a long time — it's a passion. And I took a job at a non-profit called The Younger Heroes and we are re-connecting veteran parents with their kids, so it's a really cool mission.
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