AJ Odudu quits Strictly just a day before final after devastating ankle injury
Strictly Come Dancing finalist AJ Odudu has had to pull out of the BBC competition one day before the final due to her painful ankle injury.
The 33 year old TV presenter, who has wowed the judges all series alongside pro dance partner Kai Widdrington, suffered a devastating blow when she hurt her right ankle.
The pain was so bad that she ‘projectile vomited’ and now AJ cannot stand or put weight on her foot without crutches, leaving her with no choice but to withdraw from the show.
In a statement released on the Strictly Instagram account announcing her departure from the competition, which will see remaining contestants Rose-Ayling Ellis and John Whaite compete for the Glitterball trophy, they wrote: "Sadly due to injury AJ and Kai have had to withdraw from #Strictly and won’t compete in tomorrow’s final.
They added: "We want to thank them for 13 incredible weeks on the show and the pure joy they brought to the dance floor every week." followed by a red heart emoji.
AJ made the decision after consulting with medical professionals and was left "deeply upset".
She shared: "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 & Johannes and Rose and Giovanni. I will be cheering you on (on one leg!)".
Her pro dancing partner Kai, 26, 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."
He went on to thank his Strictly partner as he added: "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. 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."
Kai also took to his Instagram account to share snaps from their time on the competition show, including one of AJ on his shoulders, another of them in a field and many of them rehearsing together.
In the caption, he told his 164,000 followers how "gutted" he is that they won't be competing in the final as they had planned.
"This is very hard to put into words but I’m going to try.
"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. 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. 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."
He went on to discuss his journey on the show after joining for the first time this year.
Kai said: "It has always been a dream of mine to join the the amazing cast of Strictly Come Dancing every since I was a kid, but to come in on my first season and be partnered with an amazing person like AJ and have the experience I have had is more than I 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.
"I want to say a big thank you to every one on the show, from my fellow professionals, the celebrities, the judges, production, the costume, lighting and design department, the dance team and all the amazing people that work behind the scenes who help make Strictly the show it is.
"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."
Addressing the finalists, he continued: "To Gio & Rose, Johannes & John I’m wishing you the best of luck for the weekend you guys are amazing, go out and smash it!!! Until next time, keep dancing x".
This comes after AJ opened up about her injury in a moving post on her Instagram account.
Following an appearance on Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two, AJ shared a snap of herself with her crutches.
She wrote alongside it: “I've got a repeated traumatic impact injury to my right ankle affecting the joint, capsule and ligaments themselves.
“I can't pinpoint a moment it actually happened during training but the pain came on suddenly on Monday night.”
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Going on to detail how bad the injury has been, AJ continued: “The pain was so acute that I projectile vomited and currently I can't put any weight on my right foot without agonising discomfort.”
“Because I'm unable to move without crutches, we haven't been nor will be able to rehearse properly ahead of the live final. To say I'm devastated would be a huge understatement and I am gutted.”
However, at the time AJ had high hopes that she would be able to perform on the night of the final, as she went on: “THAT BEING SAID, whilst it's not the week I had planned I'm trying to remain hopeful and positive.”
“I'm surrounded by a fantastic medical team who are trying their best to get me back on my feet PLUS, I have the most incredible partner @kaiwidd who is carrying me emotionally and physically (literally).”
She then thanked Strictly fans for their outpouring of love, concluding: “Thanks for all your messages. I sincerely hope it will be all right on the night.”
To read more Strictly stories on the countdown to the final, sign up to our daily OK! newsletter. The Strictly Come Dancing final will air on Saturday 18 December on BBC One
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