Former British swimming star Ellie Simmonds is swapping the pool for the ballroom, having become the latest to join the line-up for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.
The 27-year-old is one of Britain’s finest ever Paralympians and first came to national attention when she won two Paralympic gold medals at Beijing in 2008.
Simmonds retired from swimming in 2021 and has since gone on to become a broadcaster for BBC Sport.
However, the British star has now confirmed the news that she is joining the hit BBC dance contest and says she is “excited” to get started.
“Oh my gosh!! I’m literally bursting with excitement!! It’s been soooo hard keeping this secret as I’ve wanted to tell everyone,” she said.
“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 can’t believe I’m writing this! I’m literally bursting with excitement!— Ellie Simmonds (@EllieSimmonds1) August 7, 2022
It’s been soooo hard keeping this secret as I’ve wanted to tell everyone…
I’m going on @bbcstrictly!
I’m a tad nervous too, well more than a tad… I’m absolutely petrified! But I can’t wait!!💙 pic.twitter.com/amIV3CNszu
Who is Simmonds?
Born with achondroplasia, Simmonds competed in S6 events and broke multiple world records in events ranging from the 400m freestyle to the 200m medley throughout her career.
The Brit was just 13 years old when she competed at Beijing and was the youngest member of the Team GB side.
Four years later, she was selected for Great Britain again and won two more gold medals in London.
At Rio 2016, Simmonds claimed her fifth Paralympic gold, plus a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle –– bringing her Paralympic medal tally to eight.
Simmonds also won 10 World Championship and seven European Championship titles during her career.
The 27-year-old announced her retirement last year, after failing to medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
In 2013, Simmonds was awarded an OBE for services to Paralympic sport.
Simmonds to make Strictly history
The former swimmer will make history on Strictly as the first dwarf contestant to ever compete 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,” she said.
A number of other famous British sportswomen have taken part in the show in the past, including Claudia Fragapane, Victoria Pendleton and Nicola Adams.
Fellow Paralympic swimmer Lauren Steadman also competed back in 2018 and reached the semi-final with partner AJ Pritchard.
Steadman won gold in the Women’s PTS5 at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.