Lauren Steadman follows up world championship success with star turn on Strictly Come Dancing
Lauren Steadman's charge to add the Glitterball Trophy to world title glory hit full stride as she took to the Strictly dance floor for the first time.
Fresh from claiming gold at the World Para-Triathlon championships, Peterborough athlete Lauren wowed judges on hit BBC1 show Strictly Come Dancing, along side her partner AJ Pritchard.
The pair only had two days training before the first performance, as Lauren took the world title - for the third time - in Australia the week before, but still managed to finish sixth in the first show, scoring 25 for their waltz.
Lauren - who was born missing her lower right arm - has won a Paralympic silver medal along with three world titles and scores of other medals and titles.
This weekend will see the public able to vote for the first time - but Lauren already has an army of young fans backing her bid for glory.
Children at Great Gidding Primary School - where a young Lauren first started her sporting journey - are all supporting the world champion’s journey on Strictly.
Emma Penniall, class teacher at the school near Sawtry, said: “We are all thrilled she is doing Strictly.
“We have followed her sporting career with great interest, and she has come to see the children on a number of occasions.
“When she was here, she showed a lot of promise. She started swimming while here, and was the captain of the netball team.
“When she went to the Paralympics in Rio, the pupils wrote letters to her - and we received handwritten letters back to each pupil from her.
“We then invited her back to the school, and she was amazing. She spent time with all the pupils, and brought her Paralympic medal- and then came back for Sports Day.
“She is really inspirational - to have someone like that, who has achieved so much, from our little school - it shows the children they can achieve anything.
“Sport is very important in our school, so it is fantastic to see her doing so well.”
The children are now writing more letters to Lauren to support her - and are also planning on getting their own dancing shoes on.
Emma said: “Everyone will be voting for her and supporting her. We think she can go a long way in the show - she is a very special person.
“ We hope at some point she will come back to the school and we can do some dancing with her.”
Lauren received high marks from all the judges for the waltz, despite battling jet lag and her short amount of training time.
Partner AJ called her a ‘true inspiration,’ while judge Craig Revel Horwood said her performance was ‘impressive.’
Fellow judge Darcy Bussell described the dance as ‘a beautiful waltz with a serene quality,’ and Shirley Ballas described her as ‘a beautiful princess.’
Final judge Bruno Tonioli, who gave Lauren a 7 - the best score she received - said: “It was like watching Strictly’s Romeo And Juliet - you are on a winning streak.”
After the show, Lauren tweeted: “I felt like a princess! Happy and relieved after only 2 days....but he was a prince and taught me well- thank you @Aj11Ace I loved dancing the waltz you with! Excited for next week!”
This weekend Lauren will swap the graceful waltz for the more energetic Charleston, when she and AJ perform to New Rules by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox as she tries to avoid being in the bottom two couples, who have to face a dance off to stay in the show.
The next episode of Strictly Come Dancing will be broadcast on BBC 1 at 6.30pm on Saturday, with the results show - which includes the reveal of the first couple to leave the show - broadcast on BBC 1 at 7.15pm on Sunday.