It's sad news for AJ Odudu.
The Strictly Come Dancing final is tomorrow (Saturday 18th December) but AJ Odudu has had to withdraw from the competition and officially announced her exit from the show for health reasons on Friday 17th December.
In a statement, AJ said: "Strictly Come Dancing has been a lifelong dream and I'm glad it came true. Good luck to my partners in dance, John & Johannes and Rose and Giovanni. I will be cheering you on (on one leg!)."
AJ had been one of the frontrunners since the 19th series started back in September, topping the Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard in Week One, and managed to make it to the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 final along with her professional dance partner Kai Widdrington.
The plan had been for AJ to return to the dance floor on Saturday night, where she would have competed against Rose Ayling-Ellis and John Whaite, who are now the final two in the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 line-up.
Following the end of her Strictly journey, here's everything you need to know about AJ Odudu.
Who is AJ Odudu?
Job: TV presenter
Partnered with: Kai Widdrington
AJ Odudu has vast experiences across a range of presenting gigs, with early TV roles including co-hosting six-part series The Almost Perfect Guide to Life with Reggie Yates all the way back in 2009.
Her most high-profile jobs have included presenting Big Brother’s Bit on the Side with Emma Willis and Rylan Clark-Neal and serving as the backstage reporter on The Voice UK and its junior spin-off The Voice Kids.
In 2019 she appeared as a contestant on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, while last year she presented the adventure reality series Don't Rock the Boat alongside Freddie Flintoff.
And she's had a busy 2021 so far, appearing as a guest on Would I Lie To You?, Celebrity Karaoke Club, The Wheel, Cooking with the Stars, and Rolling In it as well as presenting BDSM game show Apocalypse Wow.
Throughout her career, she has also guest presented on The One Show, Lorraine, and This Morning, and she is a Contributing Editor for Grazia Magazine.
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AJ Odudu drops out of Strictly Come Dancing
It was announced on Friday 17th December 2021 on the day before the grand final that AJ Odudu would have to withdraw from the competition with her professional dance partner Kai Anderson.
AJ said in a statement: "I'm deeply upset that I am unable to perform in the Final due to a torn ligament in my right ankle.
"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 for the experience, 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 and I'm glad it came true. Good luck to my partners in dance, John & Johannes and Rose and Giovanni. I will be cheering you on (on one leg!)."
Meanwhile, AJ's devoted dance partner Kai commented: "I’ve been absolutely honoured to get to dance with the incredible AJ Odudu for the last few months and although neither of us wanted our journey to end this way, AJ’s health and safety are by far the most important things.
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"I want to thank AJ for being the absolute best partner I could ever have asked for in my first year on the show and I will always treasure the memories of dancing in the Strictly ballroom with her.
"I know we will be friends for life and I will be there for her through her recovery in whatever way I can. I want to wish good luck to John & Johannes and Rose & Giovanni for the Final. And finally the biggest thank you to everyone who voted for us throughout the series, your support has been unforgettable."
Finally, Strictly Come Dancing's executive producer Sarah James said: “AJ may not be able to compete in the Final but 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 dance floor. AJ and Kai are a wonderful partnership and have performed some unforgettable routines over the last few months.
"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."
What happened to AJ Odudu's foot?
On Wednesday 15th December, it was revealed that AJ Odudu had suffered a painful foot injury days before the Strictly final.
Speaking to press including RadioTimes.com, the presenter explained: "I've hurt the ligament in my arch, and I can't put any weight on my foot at at all. So, we have missed a lot of training because I can't stand up. I'm on crutches and I'm doing everything I can to try and be there."
AJ is currently resting, but sadly was not recovered enough to return to the show for the grand final
Taking to social media, the presenter revealed how she's been leaning on Kai, who she says has been carrying her "emotionally and physically" throughout this time.
AJ's Strictly journey
Week One: Jive (8 + 8 + 9 + 9) = 34
Week Two: Foxtrot (7 + 9 + 7 + 8) = 31
Week Three: American Smooth (8 + 9 + 9 + 9) = 35
Week Four: Samba (5 + 7 + 8 + 8) = 28
Week Five: Argentine Tango (8 + 8 + 10 + 9) = 34
Week Six: Viennese Waltz (9 + 10 + 9 + 9) = 37
Week Seven: Charleston (9 + 10 + 10 + 10) = 39
Week Eight: Paso Doble (6 + 7 + 7 + 8 ) = 28
Week Nine: Waltz (9 + 10 + 10 + 9) = 38
Week 10: Couple's choice (9 + 8 + 10 + 9) = 36
Week 11: Salsa (7 + 8 + 8 + 7) = 30
Week 12: Quickstep (10 + 10 + 10 + 10) + Rumba (9 + 10 + 10 + 10) = 79
It was an incredibly strong start in the competition for AJ as not only did she get the highest score of the night, but she also got the first-ever nine from Shirley Ballas in Week One. She had an impressive dance again in Week Two and managed another top-three finish.
Week Four did not go quite according to plan for her, but Week Seven saw her get her highest score yet! She took a dip in Week Eight, but bounced back to a stellar score of 39 in Week Nine, and managed to finish in second place on the leaderboard in Week 10 with 36 points. Week 11 was not great as she finished bottom, but she climbed all the way back to the top in the semi-final.
On joining Strictly, AJ said: “I am beyond chuffed that I am going to be on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing and I'm so glad I can finally tell my mum. Her face will be a picture, she’s going to be over the moon! I absolutely love the show and am fully committed to making the most of every second of the Strictly experience. Bring it on!"