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The TV host, 33, and her pro partner Kai Widdrington, 26, were due to dance tonight against EastEnder Rose Ayling-Ellis, partner Giovanni Pernice and baker John Whaite and pro Johannes Radebe for the glitterball trophy.
But the “deeply upset” duo decided to pull out of the hit BBC1 show after seeking advice from medical professionals.
AJ praised the Strictly crew and fans, saying: “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, 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. I’m glad it came true.”
AJ wished John, 32, Johannes, 34, Rose, 27, and Giovanni, 31, luck, quipping: “I’ll be cheering you on (on one leg).”
Kai said he had been “absolutely honoured” to dance with “incredible” AJ.
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He added: “Although neither of us wanted our journey to end this way, AJ’s health and safety are the most important things.
“I want to thank AJ for being the absolute best partner I could ever have asked for in my first year on the show. I know we will be friends for life and I will be there for her through her recovery in whatever way I can.”
AJ, from Bolton, had revealed previously that the pain in her ankle was so bad she vomited.
Earlier this week she could not stand without crutches and had been seen hobbling.
But on Wednesday she said she hoped “it will be all right on the night”.
AJ’s withdrawal means there will now be just nsc pr sa alw mos finalis now change the planned schedule. Executive producer Sarah James said of AJ: “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 dancefloor.
“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.”
Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse tweeted: “So sad but our health comes first!
“Get well soon and congratulations for a phenomenal series!!”
- The Strictly Come Dancing final can be seen on BBC1 tonight at 7pm.
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