AJ Odudu’s professional dance partner Kai Widdrington has spoken out on the presenter’s heartbreaking decision to pull out of the Strictly Come Dancing grand final this weekend due to an ankle injury.
The 26 year old pro, who danced his first year on the BBC competition with AJ, 33, admitted it was “hard to put into words” and he was “absolutely gutted” they couldn’t finish their journey.
He also said the last 12 weeks training and competing with the radio show host has been “amazing” and he is thrilled to have made a “friend for life”.
Unfortunately, despite using crutches all week and staying off her foot so she could try and take to the dance floor in the final on Saturday, December 18, the medical team in charge of her care agreed it simply wouldn’t be possible.
“I want to let you know that sadly mine and AJ’s journey on Strictly Come Dancing has come to an end and we wont be competing in the final this Saturday,” Kai wrote in a statement on his Instagram page.
“I am absolutely gutted that AJ and I wont get to finish our journey on Strictly the way we would’ve wanted to.
“The last 12 weeks with AJ have been amazing, she has been the perfect student, hardworking, dedicated and talented and I am sending her all my love and best wishes for a quick recovery,” the dancer continued. “I truly have made a friend for life in her and can’t wait to take to the dance floor with her again when she is fully recovered.”
Kai went on to say it had always been a “dream” of his to join the Strictly cast one day, ever since he was a child, but being partnered with AJ made the experience all the more special and more than he could have “ever imagined”.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what we have achieved over the last 13 weeks and at times I really felt like I was dancing with a professional dancer,” Kai shared.
The pro went on thank everyone on the show, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, who he has worked with the last three months.
“Lastly I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported AJ and myself week in and week out, your support has been amazing and truly unforgettable. You know who you are,” the star finished, sending good luck and well wishes to the remaining finalists in the competition.
“Until next time, keep dancing x,” Kai added.
Speaking on the decision for AJ to withdraw, executive producer Sarah James 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,” she continued. “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.”
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