Ellie Simmonds: I wish I had seen people like me on TV as a girl

Ellie Simmonds: I wish I had seen people like me on TV as a girl

September 17, 2022

Strictly star and gold medallist ELLIE SIMMONDS: I wish I had seen people like me on TV as a girl

Strictly contestant Ellie Simmonds has told how she was the victim of vicious trolling after it was announced she had signed up to star on the show.

The 4 ft swimmer, who won five gold medals in three Paralympics, said she received abuse on Twitter from people who thought her dwarfism meant she could not dance – but hopes to be a good role model for viewers.

Ellie, 27, said: ‘Some people have said, “How’s the dwarf going to dance?” It’s sad and it does get to you. 

‘I asked my professional partner if he was going to be all right with it because I’m small but he was like, “I want to dance with you, I want to try it out”.

‘It’s scary. Yes, I’ll be self-conscious. I’m a woman anyway, I’m different. We all worry about our wobbly bits. I’m not going to be like any other celeb, with that partnership where you can hold each other.’

Strictly contestant Ellie Simmonds, 27, said she hopes to be a role model for younger viewers

She says that her bowed legs, smaller steps and shorter arms will mean she has to make adjustments, particularly as her professional partner is much taller.

She will also have the challenge of wearing heels for the first time. She added: ‘This morning I was wearing them in while brushing my teeth. I never normally do that.

‘I went around the studio to make sure I can reach things. They got me a smaller clothes rail. It’s things like that to make me comfortable… 

The 4 ft swimmer, who won five gold medals in three Paralympics (pictured with her gold for the 400-metre freestyle at the London 2012 games), said she received abuse on Twitter from people who thought her dwarfism meant she could not dance

‘My partner has never danced with an individual with dwarfism before, so we didn’t know how we’d hold each other, how we do the moves… This is so out of my comfort zone.’

She hopes her appearance on Strictly, which first airs on Friday on BBC1, will inspire others, saying: ‘People have reached out to me, it’s been so touching. If I can do it, people watching will be like, ‘We can do it too.’

‘If I had this as a child, watching someone with dwarfism on a dancing show, it would have been amazing. I never thought I’d get the opportunity. I swam in front of millions of people but dancing is different.’

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