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Sheli McCoy: Who is Gladiators star from Dundee?

The gym owner is appearing as Sabre in the reboot of the iconic TV show.

Sheli McCoy is set to star in Gladiators
Sheli McCoy is appearing as Sabre in the BBC's Gladiators reboot. Image: Supplied/BBC

Dundee gym owner Sheli McCoy made her bow as Sabre when the reboot of the iconic TV show Gladiators hit screens earlier this year.

Sheli is one of 16 Gladiators who took on contestants in the rebooted TV show, which is set to return for a second series.

As she becomes a household name, we take a look at Sheli’s background.

What is Sheli McCoy’s background?

Sheli went to school at Ceres Primary in Fife.

She later graduated with a master’s degree from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, before setting herself up in Menzieshill in Dundee.

A keen sportswoman, she has competed in five British Weightlifting Championships events and CrossFit championships all over the world, becoming Scottish champion in both sports.

The 35-year-old competed in the 35-39 category at last year’s CrossFit Games, ranking 104th out of more than 23,000 participants.

In 2023, Sheli also set three new Scottish records in Olympic weightlifting at the Scottish Championships.

This made her the fourth-highest-ranked athlete from the UK.

Sheli is a Scottish champion in weightlifting and CrossFit. Image: Sheli McCoy/Instagram
SweatBox Dundee
Sheli co-owns SweatBox Dundee on Camperdown Road. Image: SweatBox Dundee/Facebook

Sheli runs the SweatBox Dundee gym on Camperdown Road with former Dundee Stars player Sam McCluskey.

The gym offers a range of classes, from new starts’ and kids’ classes to functional high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and yoga sessions.

As well as having more than 10 years’ experience as a personal and CrossFit trainer, Sheli is also a weightlifting coach and sports rehabilitation therapist.

In February, she opened up on how being a victim of domestic abuse inspired her to become a fitness champion.

How did Sheli McCoy get involved in Gladiators?

Both Gladiators and competitors were asked to apply to join the show by the show’s bosses.

But during a Q&A with her followers on Instagram, Sheli revealed: “I was found, headhunted and went through a challenging testing routine.”

She was unveiled as Sabre on Channel 4 show Steph’s Packed Lunch in May.

She later revealed how she thought the calls to join the show were a hoax.

After being named as a new Gladiator, she proved her strength by lifting guest host Anna Maxwell Martin to her seat.

BBC's Gladiators reboot is set to broadcast
Sheli McCoy as Sabre with her fellow Gladiators. BBC/Guy Levy

Sheli also wrote on social media: “It’s with a full heart I can finally say out loud – I am a Gladiator.

“I truly hope Sabre will inspire and empower the younger generation of strong capable females just as the gladiators I once watched inspired me to be a confident athletic women.

“It’s a dream come true. I’ll be taking part in the old, iconic games my mum and I once watched and I can’t wait to attack the new ones with her watching.”

During filming for the show at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena, Sheli tore a hamstring.

Gladiators competitor Sheli McCoy on crutches
Sheli McCoy on crutches after her injury during Gladiators filming. Image: Sheli McCoy/Instagram

However, she still starred in the series.

After recording had come to an end, Sheli said each day was a “blessing” and every event was an “unforgettable experience that (I) would repeat in a second”.

She said: “I’m so thankful for such a phenomenal opportunity.

“I gave my absolute everything in each event to do justice to such an honour and privilege.”

What do we know about Sheli McCoy’s Gladiators character Sabre?

Sheli McCoy stars as Sabre in the reboot
Sabre from Gladiators – AKA Sheli McCoy. Image: BBC

Producers of the new show – presented by Bradley and Barney Walsh – have described Sheli’s character as “fierce, powerful and agile”.

They said previously: “Contenders, be afraid of an attack from Sabre, she’s fearless and ferocious.

“Once she catches sight of prey, there’s no escape.”

Will Sheli McCoy return as Sabre in Gladiators series two?

Both Sheli and the BBC have confirmed she will be back for the second series of the show, which is expected to return to screens in early 2025.

Filming will take place during the summer of 2024.

What else does Sheli McCoy do away from Gladiators?

On top of her gym work and appearing in the TV show, Sheli has become an influential online figure, where she promotes various campaigns and brands through her Instagram page.

She has told followers how she is learning to play golf.

Sheli has also been on several other TV shows thanks to her new-found Gladiators fame – including filming an as-yet-unaired episode of Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel.

She also joined fellow influencers to celebrate the opening of Hollywood Bowl Dundee.