The two men who passed the gruelling course on SAS: Who Dares Wins have told how personal challenges drove them to success on the show.
Dental engineer Kieran Lang, 25, explained how his stutter helped him gain huge mental resilience.
While taunts Connor Smyth, 30, has faced since childhood for being an Irish dancer played a part as he vowed to challenge the stereotypes.
Fans of the Channel 4 show watched last night as the pair became the only recruits from the 21 who began the 12-day challenge not to quit or be axed.
Kieran believes his struggles with his stutter helped him. He said: “Mentally, I’m very strong. Even when my body wanted to give up, my mind pushed me to go further. I’ve always lived in my head. I talk more in my head than out loud.
“Not being able to communicate fluently has forced me to get to know the voice in my head pretty well. So I found comfort, just chilling with my thoughts.”
He nearly gave up on the first day but thoughts of his young son spurred him on. Kieran thinks his stutter has held him back at times, despite becoming Young Mayor of Lewisham in South-East London aged 16.
A highlight in the role was being a London 2012 Olympics torchbearer. Kieran, who now lives in Cornwall, said SAS: Who Dares Wins has been “life-changing”. He added: “Knowing I have the strength of character to cope with whatever is thrown at me has made me very proud of myself.
“I’ve learnt I’m a lot stronger, physically and mentally, than I’ve ever given myself credit for.”
Professional Irish dancer Connor feels that being ridiculed for years played a huge part in his success on the TV programme.
He said: “Not for one second did I think about giving up.
“When it got really bad and I was at my lowest, I really thought about why I was there, why I was putting my body and mind though so much pain.
“I wanted to challenge the stereotypes and show that male dancers are strong, powerful and tough. I want to show
any young male dancers, or anyone who does a sport or discipline that isn’t perceived as ‘manly’, you can be strong and overcome obstacles.
He added: “Pursue your passion with all of your heart, don’t be deterred by stigma or stereotypes.”
Connor, who is from Newtownards, Co Down, and who has performed in the West End and on Broadway, said the show was the best experience of his life.
Final challenges on the programme last night included interrogations, sleep and food deprivation, and scaling a peak while carrying heavy weights.