The celebrities are poised to perform their first dances on Strictly Come Dancing this weekend. With the cameras streaming live to the nation, tighter than tight lycra and plenty of tricky moves to remember, it’s going to be a stressful weekend. Especially so for Olympic sprinter Iwan Thomas, who has had considerably less training time than his fellow competitors…
“Since the launch show I’ve been in India, Italy and Japan,” Thomas tells RadioTimes.com, referring to his work as a presenter on BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage, among other projects. “I’ve had three days training unfortunately, which is not good enough. It’s just the way that my work diary has fallen… This first week is going to be tough for me.”
We caught up with the star, who has been paired with fan-favourite Ola Jordan, just as he arrived back at Strictly HQ yesterday. He admitted to being “tired and jet-lagged” but excited about fitting in “a bit of last minute practice.”
He might have only had minimal training but he worked hard while he could, says Thomas: “The three days I had with Ola I trained mega hard. We were doing 8-10 hours a day so hopefully it will be enough to show that I’ve got a bit of promise!”
He’s clearly pleased with his partner – “She’s just what I need. She’s firm but fair. I’ve been very lucky to be paired with her. I just don’t want to let her down” – and despite time constraints is pretty positive about how his Tango is looking too.
“I knew it would be tough because I’m not a natural dancer but I am quite happy actually,” he tells us, adding: “I’ve still got to work on my posture, but hopefully it’s a case of just holding my nerve on the night, keeping confident and doing as well as I can.”
When it comes to the competition as a whole, Thomas says he only feels competitive with himself – “it’s me against myself really” – but he’d like to get halfway and he’d “love to hear Len’s ‘SEVEN!'” This week, though, he’s not thinking about where he’ll sit on the leaderboard.
“I just want to do enough to show that I’ve got potential. That’s all I want to do on this first week,” he says.
He says he’s “mega nervous” about his first dance – “I get butterflies just thinking about it” – but he’s used to performing under pressure.
“As an athlete, one thing you can do is channel nerves. I can’t lie though, I think Strictly will be more nerve-wracking than an Olympic or World Championship final because I’m out of my comfort zone.”
And he does have a few tricks up his sleeve for keeping calm. Not that he’s willing to divulge any of those secrets to us…
“I couldn’t tell you!” he laughs. “I’m quite superstitious. There will definitely be a few superstitious things I’ll be doing…”
When his first dance is done and dusted Thomas wants to focus fully on his Strictly training. He’s just got to pop to Europe first…
“I jump on a jet on Sunday morning – I’ve got to present my show in Spain on Sunday evening – and then I’m back again Sunday night. It’s a bit rock ‘n’ roll!
“Come Monday morning I’m all Strictly!” he promises.
Strictly Come Dancing is on tonight at 9:00pm and tomorrow at 6:20pm on BBC1
Robin Windsor, Alex Jones and Sir Bruce Forsyth will be at the Radio Times Festival this weekend. Tickets are available here.