The new season of Tropika Island Of Treasure is in full swing and after Tumi Voster and Mark-Anthony Bingham were the first to be eliminated, front-runners Melinda Bam and Kelly Gunnell (Team Coral) exited the show in what has become one of Tropika Island of Treasure’s most shocking eliminations.

Melinda and Kelly have been dominating the challenges throughout the season but after the leaderboard was cleared, their luck turned. Last week, the two received three points in a general knowledge challenge and the team couldn’t seem to pick themselves up. After being on the losing team of the human foosball challenge in last nights’ episode, Melinda and Kelly were the first team to complete and ultimately win the next puzzle challenge. But, after a tie-breaker challenge between competitors and #TeamBlue contestants Sbahle Mpisane and Nondu Mabizela, the two found themselves in the elimination challenge.

The elimination challenge saw bottom three teams Team Coral (Melinda Bam and Kelly Gunnell), Team White (Khanya Mkangisa and Mpande Buthelezi) and Team Yellow (Nay Maps and Rudi Witkowsky) test their puzzle-solving skills yet again and, shockingly, Team Coral came in last. The elimination came as a shock to the remaining contestants and is a reminder that anybody could leave at any time.

I caught up with Melinda and spoke to her about her experience on the island.

What surprised you most about yourself being on TIOT and the island?

I was surprised to learn that I am really adaptable and that I can throw myself into different challenges and situations and think strategically in a way that guaranteed an edge in whatever came our way. I have also learnt that although I am an exceptionally competitive person, motivation doesn’t come from beating other people. Rather, it comes from giving 120% all the time – and that allowed me to be at peace with every outcome because I knew I gave it my best, and that is all I can ever do in life, and the rest must just happen according to God’s plan. I experienced the same at Miss Universe, knowing I gave it my absolute all, and then being at peace to know that it just wasn’t in His plan for me and accepting it with my head held high, which still left me with the ability to be happy for whoever does win deservingly!

Where do you think you could have improved?

I honestly think Kelly and I made the best of teams, and that we worked so well together. We left each other feeling empowered in our strengths and secure in our weaknesses in every challenge. I could feel how every single challenge gave us a greater determination to show people that two girls can kick some butt and work brutally hard at everything, and still do that with integrity and without becoming catty. We just wanted everyone to do their best, so that the winners could be proud to say “may the best team win” and truly mean it. Beyond that, and knowing that our character wasn’t at fault even in defeat – makes me proud to say that there was nothing more that we could do…

What was the best thing about being teamed up with your partner?

The best thing about being teamed up with Kelly was that we had this instant camaraderie that encouraged each other’s strengths and never nitpicked at our weaknesses! People often think girls need to throw a bit of shade, and walk over others for them to get to the top, but we showed how we can dominate, and still encourage other teams when they were low spirited – and I know all of them can vouch and say that we were the greatest cheerleaders for all the other teams. We now have a bond that will last us a lifetime, because finding someone who can work as hard all while having the same source of motivation is a rare find! I think that my reason for entering #TIOT8 had a greater goal than winning the million. It was being able to show women empowerment in action and girls working together as a team in unison. We both left winners. Who Run the World? GIRLS!!!!

Who did you think your biggest competitor was?

I think our greatest competitors were team Red (Brendan Peyper & Lisanne Lazarus) and team Yellow (Rudi Witkowsky and Nay Maps). They competed with the same spirit that we did. They were always encouraging, never talked down to anyone, picked themselves up when they were defeated and never shied away from encouraging those around them as well. I love both of these teams to bits!

Why should people continue to watch Tropika Island Of Treasure for the remainder of the season?

Because it is the best season yet! There is so much action, Slenda Twists and turns that create so much suspense – and will show a lot more blood, sweat and tears than one can ever imagine! May the best team win! Team Coral is standing right at the sidelines cheering you on!

What advice do you wish someone told you before the show?

I wish I knew that the game is not all about brute strength, intellect, speed, mental agility and teamwork. There is quite a bit of luck and Slenda Twists that favour some over others, and often the greatest of teams need to pair up with teams who don’t necessarily compete in the same manner – and in those challenges we ended up having a shortfall of success. But in the end, I still believe what’s meant to be was meant to be and that’s good enough for me.

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