Paralympic swimming champion Ellie Simmonds has been announced as a contestant for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, saying she’s delighted to be the first contestant with dwarfism to take part in the show.
The competition will be returning for its 20th year in September, and Simmonds told the BBC she was embracing the “once in a lifetime” opportunity: “I’m so excited, I just want to enjoy every second and try out the sequins and costumes.
“I’ll be the first dwarf doing this show and I just want to show how positive it is – being different is okay.”
In 2008, Simmonds became Britain’s youngest ever athlete to compete in the Summer Paralympics – then aged 13 – and was named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year the same year.
She won two gold medals at those Games, another two at the London Paralympics and a fifth in Rio in 2016.
She has since commentated on the sport, and made two documentaries, including Ellie Simmonds: A World without Dwarfism?
Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC’s flagship primetime show that has sold versions around the world under the banner Dancing with the Stars, made history last year with the first ever same-sex pairing in the show, and also featuring its first deaf contestant, Rose Ayling-Ellis, who went on to win the competition.