The parents of STRICTLY star Ellie Simmonds have spoken out about their fears for their daughter after she signed up for the BBC dance show.
Five-time Paralympic gold medalist Ellie, 27, who is the first contestant on the BBC show with dwarfism, brought the crowd to their feet with an energetic cha-cha-cha to Dance by DNCE last week .
Ellie’s parents, Steve and Val, admitted that they were initially concerned when she told them about signing up for the program.
“We were very happy for her, but also a little worried about how she would deal with the intensity, especially if it goes well for her and she sticks around for a long time,” Steve told The Mirror.
“But deep down there was a real sense of pride that, once again, I was breaking down barriers and showing that anything is possible.”
She praised her daughter’s passion, adding: “Eleanor has been uncompromising in her belief in herself and who she is.
“We have always told him that he can do whatever he wants and Strictly is the next example of his continuing with that theme.
“Doing so and continuing to behave in the honest and open manner that she does is a constant source of pride for us.”
After her routine with her partner Nikita Kuzmin, Ellie said, “I was so nervous. It was very difficult, but I want to do it again.”
He garnered high praise from the judging panel on the series’ first live show.
Head judge Shirley Ballas gave a standing ovation after Ellie’s dance.
She said: “Your moment was beautiful. You obviously have musicality. It was great.”
Fellow judge Anton du Beke said: “That was wonderful, a great performance. You walked down the court, your timing was excellent.”
After getting a total score of 26 out of 40, Ellie delightedly asked, “Can I do it again?”
And his nerves were clearly out of whack, as even typically prickly judge Craig Revel Horwood said he has “fantastic pace.”
Ellie, 27, has achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism that results in short limbs and a normal-sized torso, and that led to particular frustration as a child.
Ellie has danced her way into the hearts of the nation, although she admits she was initially nervous about signing up for the show.
She was worried about how the height difference between her and her partner would work out, and was rightly afraid of being trolled.
The sports star said: “I already had it. Some people have said, ‘How is the dwarf going to dance?’ It’s sad and it affects you.”