'Strictly' stars pay tribute to 'beacon of joy' AJ Odudu as injury forces her to pull out of final

·Contributor
·3 min read
AJ Odudu has had to pull out of the final. (BBC)
AJ Odudu has had to pull out of the final. (BBC)

John Whaite has told AJ Odudu that she was a “beacon of joy” on Strictly after she was forced to pull out of the final due to injury.

TV presenter Odudu was due to go up against Whaite and Rose Ayling-Ellis in Saturday night’s live final of the BBC ballroom contest, but can’t take part after suffering ligament damage to her ankle.

Her fellow Strictly stars flocked to Instagram to express their sadness for Odudu after she shared her news.

Read more: Strictly viewers call for Rhys Stephenson to return for final after AJ Odudu pulls out

“Love you SO much,” former Bake Off winner Whaite posted.

“You deserved this because you’ve worked so hard for it, and you’ve been a beacon of joy and positivity for many of us. In spite of this blow, please remember how many people you have touched and inspired.”

John Whaite is in the final. (BBC)
John Whaite is in the final. (BBC)

Fellow finalist Ayling-Ellis said she was “absolutely devastated” for Odudu and her pro partner Kai Widdrington.

“You should be so proud of all the work you done,” she said.

“It is beautiful. I'm sending lots of love to you both.”

Rhys Stephenson, who narrowly missed out on a spot in the final when he was eliminated from the competition last week, wrote: “Sending all of the love in the world. AJ you were dangerous on that dancefloor!”

Judge Motsi Mabuse said that Odudu had been “phenomenal”.

“Get well soon! Take care,” she added.

Rose Ayling-Ellis said she was 'devastated' for AJ Odudu. (BBC)
Rose Ayling-Ellis said she was 'devastated' for AJ Odudu. (BBC)

Sara Davies, who was eliminated earlier in the series, said Odudu was “incredible” and that she was “beyond devastated” for the TV star.

“I know you would have been incredible tomorrow night and I’m so gutted we won’t get to see you dance,” she said.

“Sending tons of love for a speedy recovery x.”

Widdrington said on Instagram that he was “absolutely gutted that AJ and I won’t 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,” he said.

“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.”

Odudu confirmed on Friday that she had to pull out of Strictly and said she was “gutted”.

Read more: Strictly Come Dancing 2021's best moments of the series

Thanking her pro partner, she said: “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.”

She said being on the show had been “lifelong dream” and that she was glad it had come true.

Watch: Strictly boosts demand for same-sex dancing

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