AJ Odudu has officially pulled out of the Strictly Come Dancing grand finale after suffering from a torn ligament in her ankle, the BBC has announced.
Days before the final, Odudu revealed her injury. She had initially said she was “hopeful” about still competing on Saturday’s final.
The TV presenter had revealed her injury at a press conference hosted by It Takes Two presenter Rylan Clark, stating that she had “hurt the ligament” in her arch.
Appearing at the conference with her right foot lifted and strapped with bandages, Odudu said: “Basically, long story short, I’ve hurt the ligament in my arch, and I can’t put any weight on my foot at all.
“So we have missed a lot of training, because I can’t stand up, I’m on crutches.”
Despite being hopeful about competing on Saturday, Odudu has now officially pulled out of the dancing competition.
In a statement, she said: “I’m deeply upset that I am unable to perform in the final due to a torn ligament in my right ankle.
“Learning to dance over the last 13 weeks has been an incredible honour and to do it alongside someone as special, patient and devoted as Kai is something I’ll treasure forever.
“Thank-you to the Strictly family for the experience, the medical team for trying to get me back on my feet, and mostly to everyone at home for watching and supporting.
“You’ve made this experience one to remember. Strictly Come Dancing has been a lifelong dream and I’m glad it came true.
“Good luck to my partners in dance, John and Johannes and Rose and Giovanni. I will be cheering you on (on one leg).”
What did Kai Widdrington say?
Odudu’s dance partner Widdrington said: “I’ve been absolutely honoured to get to dance with the incredible AJ Odudu for the last few months and although neither of us wanted our journey to end this way, AJ’s health and safety are by far the most important things.
“I want to thank AJ for being the absolute best partner I could ever have asked for in my first year on the show and I will always treasure the memories of dancing in the Strictly ballroom with her.
“I know we will be friends for life and I will be there for her through her recovery in whatever way I can.
“I want to wish good luck to John and Johannes and Rose and Giovanni for the final.
“Finally, the biggest thank-you to everyone who voted for us throughout the series, your support has been unforgettable.”
Sarah James, executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing, said: “AJ may not be able to compete in the final but she is and always will be one of the most brilliant Strictly finalists we have ever had.
“We cannot thank her enough for fully embracing the experience and being a total delight both on and off the dance floor.
“AJ and Kai are a wonderful partnership and have performed some unforgettable routines over the last few months.
“Although this is not how we would have wanted her Strictly journey to end, AJ’s health and wellbeing come first and everyone involved in the show send her all our love and wish her a speedy recovery.”
Who is in the final?
Now that Odudu and her professional dancer partner Kai Widdrington have pulled out of the Strictly final, Eastenders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and partner Giovanni Pernice, and Great British Bake Off star John Whaite and his partner Johannes Radebe, will battle it out for the Glitterball trophy.
Rhys Stephenson narrowly missed out on a spot in the final after he and professional partner Nancy Xu went up against Whaite and Radebe in a dance-off.
The judges ultimately decided to save Whaite and Radebe, however Graig Revel Horwood said that it was one of the most “amazing dance offs” that he has ever witnessed - high praise from the notoriously difficult to please judge.
He said: “In all the years I’ve been doing the show since 2004, I really do not want to make this decision tonight. This has been one of the most amazing dance offs I’ve ever witnessed.
"Both couples are equal and both couples deserve to go through and I just want to put both couples through.
“I know I’m not allowed to do that so I have to choose. I’m going on the technical side and it’s to do with clean finishes. I’d like to put through to the final John and Johannes."
The finale will air on Saturday 18 December at 7pm on BBC One.
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