AJ Odudu pulls out of 'Strictly' final over ankle injury

·TV Reporter
·4-min read
AJ Odudu has been ruled out of Saturday's final. (BBC)
AJ Odudu has been ruled out of Saturday's final. (BBC)

AJ Odudu has had to pull out of the Strictly Come Dancing final after suffering ligament damage to her ankle.

The TV presenter had been unable to rehearse with partner Kai Widdrington for most of the week and has now confirmed that she won't be taking part in tomorrow night's live final.

Read more: AJ Odudu admits early worries over unknown Strictly partner Kai Widdrington

Odudu 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!)."

The couple had been one of the strongest throughout the series. (BBC)
The couple had been one of the strongest throughout the series. (BBC)

Widdrington added: “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. 

Read more: Tilly Ramsay missing Strictly final after testing positive for COVID

"I want to wish good luck to John and Johannes and Rose and Giovanni for the final. And finally the biggest thank you to everyone who voted for us throughout the series, your support has been unforgettable.”

AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington were known for their chemistry on the dancefloor. (BBC)
AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington were known for their chemistry on the dancefloor. (BBC)

Earlier in the week, speaking to Yahoo and other media with her ankle bandaged up Odudu had said: "We have missed a lot of training because I can't stand up, I'm on crutches and I'm doing everything I can to try and be there on Saturday night."

She and Widdrington had become known for their strong chemistry on the dancefloor, with an intense moment at the end of their Argentine Tango leaving viewers wondering whether they were about to kiss.

Odudu had been praised by the judges for developing to a close to professional standard, while Widdrington had reached the final in his first series on the show as a pro dancer.

Sarah James, Strictly Come Dancing executive producer, 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.”

Rose Ayling-Ellis and her partner Giovanni Pernice, and John Whaite and his partner Johannes Radebe will still compete in tomorrow night's final, due to air at 7pm on BBC One.

Watch: Who is Strictly's AJ Odudu?

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