Greg Rutherford is the ninth celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing 2016

The long jumper lost the Blackpool battle of Olympians when he faced gymnast Claudia Fragapane in the dance-off

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Greg Rutherford is the ninth celebrity to depart the dance-floor in Strictly Come Dancing 2016. 

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Rutherford took on fellow Olympian Claudia Fragapane during the dreaded dance-off in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, but the long jumper’s Quickstep couldn’t beat the gymnast’s Jive. 

After the dance-off, all judges voted to keep Fragapane and her professional partner AJ Pritchard in the competition, and Rutherford and his partner Natalie Lowe were sent packing.

Judge Craig Revel Horwood lamented: “Well both couples improved enormously and I don’t really want to say goodbye to either. I have great respect for [Rutherford and Lowe], but the couple I’d like to save is: Claudia and AJ.”

Darcey Bussell explained her decision: “It’s really tough to see both these couples in the dance-off and they did such a better performance tonight, but the couple I would like to save for the stronger technique: Claudia and AJ.”

Bruno Tonioli added to the bottom two pairs: “You have brought so much energy and fun to both dances but I have to pick the couple I thought was stronger both content wise and performance wise.”

Head judge Len Goodman also confirmed he would have saved Claudia and AJ if the panel was split.

On Saturday night Rutherford finished sixth out of seven on the leaderboard (no points for guessing that Ed Balls finished bottom) with a score of 32 for his Quickstep to ‘Hand Jive’ by Cha Na Na.

But despite the four judges stacked up against him, Rutherford remained upbeat about his Strictly experience: “It’s been one of the most incredible things in my life. I’ve done some amazing things but this is truly one of the best things I’ve done. I’ve made such a good friend here [turning to professional partner Natalie Lowe].”

And Lowe was quick to return the favour by replying to Rutherford: “You are an amazing man – you’ve never had any dance experience and you got out there and you’ve just shown the world that you can dance.

“Honestly this has been the most incredible experience of my life performing and dancing every Saturday night with you; I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Sorry I couldn’t get you any further.”

The results show also included an 80s throwback with two musical performances from Rick ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ Astley and Simple Minds.

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The remaining six couples will return to the dance-floor on Saturday 26th November at 7pm with the results show on Sunday 27th November at 7.20pm on BBC One.