Strictly star Ellie Simmonds’ ‘secret’ boyfriend Matt will be ‘biggest support’ on show09/25/2022
Ellie Simmonds is very excited to be taking to the Strictly dance-floor.
And as the competition gets underway, the retired Paralympic swimmer said that her boyfriend Matt – who she speaks about for the first time in our interview – will be her biggest supporter.
“Matt was the first person I told," she said. "I wanted to make sure he was comfortable with me doing it, because Strictly is a big thing but he was fully like, ‘Go for it, Ellie – this is amazing.’”
Adding of finding out the news she'd landed the show, Ellie, who is partnered with pro dancer Nikita Kuzmin, added: “Keeping it a secret was so tough.
“I wanted to get a megaphone and tell absolutely everyone. I’ve already changed my Instagram handle to Strictly 2022. The response has been amazing.
"I was trying to be open-minded about who I wanted to be partnered with but deep down I wanted Nikita.”
And while she's clearly raring to go, the star admits she does have some pre-show jitters.
“One of the things I’m nervous about is not getting votes and being in the dance-off,” she said.
Ellie, who has achondroplasia, a rare genetic condition which causes a type of dwarfism, is a five-time Paralympic world champion and praises Strictly for its inclusivity over the years.
“It shows if I can do it – and I’ve seen the likes of Rose [Ayling-Ellis] who’s changing the world of disability and inclusivity – then people watching at home can adapt it to them, too," she said.
"Yes, I’m nervous about what it’s going to be like. Nikita and I were chatting about it yesterday and we’re going to just see. It might look different, and my partner’s going to be tall and we’re probably not going to be able to hold the same poses, but I’m sure it’s going to work.”
When asked what dwarfism means to her, she profoundly responded: “It means me. I’m very proud to be disabled and living with dwarfism. I can’t change myself. All I’ve known is being small and adapting and being aware. Dwarfism has never stopped me from doing anything. It’s made me stronger and more determined. I’m a very competitive and determined individual. Living with dwarfism you have to go that extra mile, you have to adapt, you have to focus more – it’s helped me to become a Paralympian, the person, the Ellie Simmonds I am today."
Strictly is on Saturdays on BBC One and iPlayer
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