Paralympic swimming gold medallist Ellie Simmonds is one of the celebrities revealed as part of the Strictly Come Dancing 2022 line-up.
The five-time Paralympic champion and broadcaster said she is “literally bursting with excitement” but also “absolutely petrified” about taking to the famous dance floor.
This is everything you need to know.
Who is Ellie Simmonds?
Simmonds is a retired British Paralympian swimmer who became a household name back in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing when she won two gold medals for Team GB. At the time, she was the youngest member of the team at just 13.
She was born in Walsall on 11 November 1994 and grew up in Aldrige. She first became interested in swimming at the age of five, getting up at 5:30am five mornings a week in order to attend two hours of training before school, and another 90 minutes of training afterwards.
Simmonds and her mother moved to South Wales when she was 11 in order to use Swansea’s world class 50 metre pool.
After competing at the Paralympics in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012, Rio in 2016 and Tokyo in 2021, Simmonds announced that she would be retiring from the sport.
At the time, she said: “I don’t think I could go for another three years.
“I’m leaving it at the right time, I love it, I’ve absolutely had a wonderful competition and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Following her retirement, Simmonds went on to present for BBC Sport, most recently for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Earlier this year, she made a BBC documentary titled Ellie Simmonds: A World Without Dwarfism?, in which she investigated a controversial new drug that promises to help children born with dwarfism grow to an average height.
What medals has she won?
Over the course of her career, Simmonds has won a number of medals across a number of different competitions.
She has won:
- Five gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the Paralympic Games
- Eight gold, three silver and four bronze medals at the World Championships
- Six gold and one silver medal at the World Championships (25m)
- Seven gold and two silver medals at the European Championships
Simmonds also bagged the gold medal in the 200m Individual Medley at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, 2010.
How tall is Ellie Simmonds?
Simmonds is 1.23 metres, which translates to roughly four feet tall.
She was born with achondroplasia, which is a form of dwarfism which stunts the growth of the limbs.
Talking to BBC Sport ahead of her documentary, Simmonds said: “If I wasn’t a dwarf, I wouldn’t have gone to the Paralympics and made a career as an athlete that way.
“So I thought, “gosh, if this drug was around when I was a kid, would I actually be who I am today?””
Who will her Strictly Come Dancing partner be?
None of the contestants announced for the newest season of Strictly Come Dancing know who their professional dancing partners are yet.
Both the celebrities and dancers are expected to find out who their partners will be during the Launch Show on 7 September.
What has she said about joining Strictly Come Dancing?
In a statement, Simmonds 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.”
Who else has been confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing?
Alongside Simmonds, a number of celebrities have been confirmed for the upcoming season of the dancing competition.
So far, the cast includes:
- Loose Women star Kaye Adams
- Radio 2 host Richie Anderson
- Coronation Street actor Will Mellor
- Comedian Jayde Adams
- Coronation Street star Kym Marsh
- Kiss radio host Tyler West