Bit­ten by rac­ing bug

> The Amaz­ing Race Asia sea­son one win­ners Malaysians Tee Joe Jer and Zab­rina Fer­nan­dez say they are will­ing to do it all over again


THEY were not as ath­letic as some of their com­peti­tors, nor did they have that nasty streak that would have en­abled them to back­stab their way to vic­tory.

In­stead, we saw them wip­ing away each other’s tears, talk­ing gen­tly to a don­key, and even fall­ing flat on their faces while run­ning in an air­port.

They were our Malaysian girls, Zab­rina Fer­nan­dez and Tee Joe Jer ( right) who won the first The Amaz­ing Race Asia ( TARA) in 2006.

They sur­prised ev­ery­one by pow­er­ing through to win the cov­eted ti­tle and the US$100,000 (RM410,000) cash prize.

They were the first all-fe­male team to win in the The Amaz­ing Race fran­chise and, at the time, were the first team to win with­out re­ly­ing on a Fast For­ward or a Yield and also the first win­ners to win only the fi­nal leg of the race.

The duo are also the only Malaysians to have won the race so far. So how has life changed for them since the race?

To­day, Zab­rina is a mar­ried mother of two and has her own pro­duc­tion com­pany, while Joe Jer takes on projects as a free­lance pro­ducer.

The two re­counted their ex­pe­ri­ences at a me­dia in­ter­view re­cently.

Back then, Zab­rina and Joe Jer were col­leagues at Chan­nel [V]. The girls were con­sid­ered the un­der­dogs from the very be­gin­ning of the race.

“Both of us clicked

Brid­get Jones’ Di­ary (2001) was first re­leased, it cre­ated a huge sen­sa­tion.

Though Amer­i­can ac­tress Zell­weger was a sur­prise choice to play the sweet but in­se­cure English­woman cre­ated by au­thor He­len Field­ing, Zell­weger none­the­less put on a note­wor­thy per­for­mance, and was even nom­i­nated for an Academy Award.

The se­quel Brid­get Jones: The Edge of Rea­son (2004) was not as good as the first but fans still flocked to see it be­cause the mo­men­tum was still there.

How­ever, fans had to wait 12 years for the third movie, Brid­get Jones’ Baby. Are they still keen? Well, maybe.

As the movie opens, we learn that Brid­get, now 43, is still alone, and Mark Darcy (Firth) has mar­ried some­one else.

No longer a self- l oathing, self-pity­ing sin­gle­ton, Brid­get wants to liven things up and goes along with new pal Mi­randa (Sarah Sole­mani) to a mu­sic fes­ti­val, where she meets Jack Qwan t (Dempsey), a Cast: Re­nee Zell­weger, Colin Firth and Pa­trick Dempsey Di­rec­tor: Sharon Maguire E-Value: 7 Act­ing: 8 Plot: 7 right from the start and we were just happy to be there,” said Joe Jer, who added that they did get more com­pet­i­tive to­wards the end when they re­alised that they could win it.

Zab­rina added: “We didn’t think we were go­ing to win. It was like win­ning the lot­tery. We did it for fun and then sud­denly we won.

“I spent the money on a few things and I saved some. I went on hol­i­day, paid off my credit card debts and spent some on my fam­ily.”

Joe Jer, mean­while, kept all of the prize money and is now us­ing it to fund her busi­ness – a restau­rant in Madrid, which she co-owns with her boyfriend. For Zab­rina, she con­tin­ued to have a con­nec­tion to the show af­ter her win, as part of the sup­port pro­duc­tion com­pany that worked on TARA when­ever there was a Malaysian leg in the race. When asked if they would do it all over again, Joe Jer said: “Sure. It is just so much fun. I may not watch it any more, but just to go on this trea­sure hunt thing for free and be a kid again, why not?”

Zab­rina said: “Be­fore TARA, there was no Asian fran­chise for top US re­al­ity shows. There was no Asia’s Next Top Model, no Asia’s Got Tal­ent. TARA was the first.

“Ev­ery­body wanted to be a part of this show. I think they did have a good bal­ance. I just wish they had car­ried on in­stead of [go­ing on] hia­tus.”

The show took a break af­ter the fourth sea­son ended in 2010.

When asked if they had any ad­vice for con­tes­tants based on their own ex­pe­ri­ences, Joe Jer said with a laugh: “Don’t cut your hair, wear bet­ter clothes, don’t wear ban­dan­nas think­ing it will bring you luck (or maybe it did) and don’t wear over-sized T-shirts that you were given for free.”

“We were not im­age savvy,” laughed Zab­rina.

Both also added that they were will­ing to race again if there is an All-Stars edi­tion.

We can only hope that the three Malaysian teams in the up­com­ing TARA 5 will take a page or two out of Zab­rina and Joe Jer’s play­book and bag the race for Malaysia. Asia

Race queens ... (be­low) Joe Jer and Zab­rina to­day, and (from far left) on their way to win­ning The Amaz­ing Race Asia sea­son one.

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