PARALYMPIC swimming star Ellie Simmonds has signed up to Strictly Come Dancing in a new first for the TV show.
The 27-year-old has a type of dwarfism called achondroplasia and is 4ft.
A source said: “Ellie is a real Strictly fan and has been in the studios to watch the live show.
“She can’t wait to get started in rehearsals this month.
“She has always been conscious of how important it is to see disability on TV, and she is keen to be part of that and inspire as many people as possible.
“But she is also hoping to have a lot of fun, and to embrace the challenge of learning to dance.”
Ellie was just 13 when she won gold medals in Beijing in 2008 and became the youngest ever recipient of an MBE a year later.
She went on to win nine titles and 15 more medals before retiring after the 2020 Tokyo games.
She was awarded an OBE in 2013 and recently fronted BBC documentary Ellie Simmonds: A World Without Dwarfism?
In April Ellie praised 2021 winner Rose Ayling-Ellis for representing the deaf community and added: “There should be much more acceptance and awareness of being different.
This helps children realise disability is just a part of normal society.”
Disabled celebs have appeared on the show before, but Ellie will be the first star with dwarfism.
Neither her representative or the BBC wanted to comment.
So far stars confirmed for the show are Will Mellor, Kym Marsh, DJ Richie Anderson, Loose Women’s Kaye Adams and comic Jayde Adams.
The Sun on Sunday revealed last month that Arsenal legend Tony Adams had signed up.
Cha-cha chance meeting of pro’s
STRICTLY’S pro dancers are on sparkling form as they pose together after a week of rehearsals for the next series.
Katya Jones and Dianne Buswell were with colleagues including Jowita Pryzstal, Nancy Xu, and show newcomers Lauren Oakley and Michelle Tsiakkas.
Katya, 33, shared the snap on Instagram with the caption: “The gang.”
Meanwhile, pal Dianne, also 33, shared snaps of the girls enjoying end-of-week cocktails in a bar.
The BBC confirmed the dance show’s launch will be recorded on September 7, prompting speculation it will air on September 10.