Dou­ble trou­ble

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - E Guide - DEB­BIE SCHIPP THE AMAZ­ING RACE AUSTRALIA South­ern Cross, Wed­nes­day, 9pm

THEY’RE a re­al­ity tele­vi­sion tal­ent scout’s dream team. White- blonde Bar­bie beach- girl looka­likes, twin sis­ters, cheer­lead­ers who love to be the cen­tre of at­ten­tion.

They love fake tan and dress­ing up, and shrug off barbs about their looks.

But as they em­bark on the sec­ond se­ries of Amaz­ing Race Australia, con­tes­tants Michelle and Jo Troy hap­pily warn you un­der­es­ti­mate them at your peril.

The 26- year- old twins from Syd­ney’s North­ern Beaches are NRL cheer­lead­ers for St Ge­orge Illawarra Dragons’ Flames squad.

They also work for Jets­tar as ground crew in Syd­ney.

And in more than six years of cheer­lead­ing and work­ing as pro­mo­tional mod­els, they’ve heard all the jibes be­fore.

‘‘ We are cheer­lead­ers, we’ve heard the Bar­bie doll and bimbo barbs,’’ says Michelle, the older twin by 34 sec­onds.

‘‘ We are judged for what we are on the out­side. We’re not bim­bos. We’re smart enough to use it to our ad­van­tage.’’

The pair leapt at the chance to join Amaz­ing Race af­ter the first Aus­tralian ver­sion aired last year.

It was a rat­ings suc­cess for Chan­nel 7, with an av­er­age of 1.2 mil­lion view­ers tun­ing in each week to fol­low the for­tunes of 11 duos as they criss- crossed the world us­ing their wits and their wiles for a shot at the $ 250,000 to the win­ner.

In this year’s race, the con­tes­tants cross four con­ti­nents and 65,000km, and the pace is re­lent­less.

The twins’ op­po­si­tion in­cludes Tweed Heads indige­nous cousins Adam and Dane, Melbourne cou­ple James and Sarah, Melbourne po­lice duo Shane and An­drew, and Tas­ma­nian flat­mates Sticky and Sam ( Sticky was born with­out a left fore­arm, but has never let that stop him be­ing an ac­tion- man).

Amaz­ing Race host Grant Bowler warns there is lots of big hair this sea­son.

What Michelle and Jo’s fel­low rac­ers might not know is that the girls went to great lengths to pre­pare for the race and not just at the hair­dresser.

‘‘ I think ev­ery­one sees us at the start line and says ‘ oh my God, what are these two flu­oro- pink top­wear­ing blonde things do­ing? We’re go­ing to walk all over them,’’ Michelle says.

‘‘ We def­i­nitely go in to prove them wrong, and sur­prise them.’’

To pre­pare for the race, the su­per­fit twins donned back­packs stacked with phone books to run stairs on the North­ern Beaches, and topped it off with a few weeks with a per­sonal trainer.

Hav­ing learned Ja­panese at school, and know­ing the value of know­ing at least a few words of other lan­guages through their work at Jets­tar, they added a ba­sic smat­ter­ing of Span­ish and French to their tools for bat­tle.

Three months sev­eral years ago as part of an Aus­tralian cheer­lead­ing squad in In­dia on the lu­cra­tive IPL ( In­dian Premier League) cricket tour had given them a smat­ter­ing of In­dian lan­guage, an aware­ness of the ex­tremes of poverty and ex­cess, and opened their eyes anew to travel abroad.

The pair then re­freshed their knowl­edge of ge­og­ra­phy, used flash­cards to learn the flags of the world, made sure they could drive man­ual cars.

The prepa­ra­tion paid off from the out­set.

‘‘ We are very com­pet­i­tive on the show, but we are friendly. We will help other teams, but at the end of the day we just want to get through to the next leg,’’ she says.

‘‘ We sur­prise teams if we over­take them be­cause the re­ac­tion is pretty much ‘ Oh my God, it’s the twins beat­ing us? Oh my God’.

‘‘ We also know we can use the as­sump­tions peo­ple make about us to our ad­van­tage.’’

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