Gladiators Australia's Raven On Spreading Her Wings And Dominating The Pyramid

Katelin Van Zyl - aka Raven - is no stranger to pushing herself past her physical limits, tackling challenges both in and out of the Gladiators arena.

Making her debut last week with an epic battle, Raven showed off she's one bird of prey not to be messed with.

From a very early age, Raven's whole life has revolved around sport, fitness and competing, making her the perfect addition to the pantheon of Australian Gladiators.

"I started playing hockey when I was 4 years old so I've always been a super driven, super fit endurance athlete," Raven told 10 Play, "it's just ingrained in me. It's been my whole life."

After sustaining multiple hockey-related injuries, she fell further in love with CrossFit, where she competed multiple times at CrossFit games.

"I was searching for something that was difficult," she explained, "my very first session of CrossFit was a 5km run which is obviously my jam... but then the next day was pull-ups or squat cleans or something and I was like oh, okay.

"I've always had that drive to want to be better," she continued. "Finding a sport like Crossfit - there are so many different domains you've got to try and be good at which is why, even to this day, I still thrive on getting better at skills, getting stronger. I've got that competitive fire in me for everything. For life!"

Competing in CrossFit games individually and as part of a team meant that joining the Gladiators - Raven was no stranger to being part of a group of elite athletes all fighting for a common goal. "I honestly had the best time, all the Gladiators together was like a dream," she said.

Having watched the original series when she was younger and seeing how strong the OG Gladiators were, there's a huge sense of pride that comes along with now being a Gladiator that young kids today can look up to.

"I am just privileged to be of a status as a Gladiator that kids can look up to like, wow, she's so strong and fit, she's a mum and she can still dominate and hold her own," she explained.

"I just really want to be a good person for people to look up to and want to aspire to be when they're older. I feel like that's a positive, good environment to be in."

With all of the Gladiators having varied backgrounds in sports and fitness specialties, Raven's CrossFit experience was the perfect training ground for some of the Gladiator events.

"You do gymnastics, you're very strong - upper and lower body - and you've got endurance," she said adding that her time as a pro hockey player also meant she was extremely agile. "I think my background and current training transferred over to Gladiators pretty damn well," she added with a laugh.

While all of the Gladiators became a very muscular little family, despite the ferocity in the arena there was also a lot of respect for every one of the contenders who were brave enough to throw their helmets into the ring.

"At the end of the day, we're all there competing, playing games, so there has to be that state of competition when it's 'game time'," she explained. But when the whistle blows and the game is done, the Gladiators were ready to congratulate all of the contenders with a high-five and a very powerful pat on the back.

"We're all there, they would love to become Gladiators and we are Gladiators so we have to appreciate this is super important for them... if somebody beats me at a game, high-five, I gave it my all!"

That doesn't mean Raven's going to make it easy on the contenders at any point.

"You want to make your other Gladiators proud! We're a team, we're there to support each other and cheer each other on and whether we win or lose we're all cheering for each other no matter what but - being a competitor - you always want to win," she said.

With two baby birds at home, Raven said it's been the best experience getting to watch the series with her family. "They get so excited when they see me on there and when I tackle [contenders] down the Pyramid. They're just loving it!

"They just idolise me now which is so cool... to be such a good influence on kids which, at the end of the day is what I want to do... I can't be any happier with how kids see me!"

Catch Raven and her fellow Gladiators Sunday - Friday at 7.30 on Network 10 and 10 Play!