Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds – who has a form of dwarfism – is set to take part in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing. She is the sixth celebrity to be announced and the seventh consecutive disabled person to compete on the dancing show.
Who is Ellie Simmonds?
Ellie Simmonds OBE is one of the most recognised athletes in the para-swimming team as a result of her incredible performances and her tearful celebrations across four Paralympic Games.
She became the youngest member of the British team at Beijing 2008, where she won the 100m freestyle S6 before breaking her own world record by more than seven seconds for a second title in the 400m freestyle S6.
At London 2012 she held her nerve under the pressure of public expectation to secure 400m freestyle S6 and 200m individual medley SM6 golds as well as 100m freestyle S6 silver and 50m freestyle S6 bronze
Check out an interview we did with Ellie Simmonds ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Ellie claimed gold at her third Games at Rio 2016, taking the Paralympic title in the 200m individual medley SM6. She became the first S6 swimmer to dip below the three-minute mark, with a time of 2:59.81. She also won bronze in the women’s 400m freestyle S6.
Ellie narrowly missed out on a place on the podium at Tokyo, twice finishing fifth as well as fourth in the SB6 100m breaststroke final, in what she later confirmed would be her fourth and final Paralympic Games.
In addition, she has also won ten gold World Championship titles.
At the age of 13, she won BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year and a year later, at just 14 years old, she became the youngest person ever to receive an MBE. She was elevated to OBE in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to Paralympic sport.
After retiring from competitive swimming in 2020, Ellie has gone on to present for BBC Sport, most recently for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Ellie has Achondroplasia, a genetic condition that is the most common type of dwarfism in the UK. In April 2022, she featured in a BBC documentary – Ellie Simmonds: A World Without Dwarfism? – in which she investigated a controversial new drug that some people argue could bring an end to dwarfism.
She is also set to explore disability and adoption in a recently announced ITV film.
Ellie Simmonds on Strictly Come Dancing 2022
Ellie Simmonds is the sixth celebrity to be announced to take part in the dancing show. The 27-year-old will be joining already announced stars Kym Marsh, Will Mellor, Richie Anderson and Jayde Adams on series 20 later this year.
Speaking after the announcement on BBC 5 Live Sunday Breakfast, the athlete said: “Oh my gosh!! I’m literally bursting with excitement!!
It’s been so hard keeping this secret as I’ve wanted to tell everyone. I’m going on Strictly Come Dancing!! I’m a tad nervous too, well more than a tad… I’m absolutely petrified!
To be asked to be part of the Strictly family is just so exciting and I cannot wait, it’s going to be so much fun. I’m counting down the minutes until it starts; learning to dance, meeting my partner and everyone else involved in the show.
Plus wearing the sequins and all that, It’s going to be a blast. I’ve been watching Strictly from as far back as I can remember; it’s a traditional lead-up to Christmas with my family and it’s a genuine privilege to be part of it.”
She added to The Mirror: “I’ll be so, so nervous, and I will try not to think of all the people watching… My family and friends will support me and help me stay grounded.”
Ellie also praised her difference being highlighted on the show: “I am the first dwarf doing the show, I will show how positive that is, that to be different is OK. It is a real honour.”
Ellie will be the seventh disabled celebrity to take part in the reality show and will be following in the footsteps of Jonnie Peacock, Lauren Steadman, Katie Piper, Will Bayley, JJ Chalmers and Rose-Ayling-Ellis – who won the show in 2021.
Strictly Come Dancing returns on BBC One in autumn 2022.
By Emma Purcell
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