'This is truly one of the best things I've done': Greg Rutherford is voted off Strictly in Blackpool... after an Olympic battle in the dance-off with gymnast Claudia Fragapane
He's been one of the most improved contestants on this year's series - transforming from a clunky athlete to a dapper gentleman on the ballroom floor.
But sadly it was Greg Rutherford's turn to say goodbye to Strictly Come Dancing on Sunday night, as he became the ninth celebrity to be voted off the competition.
It quickly became a battle of the Olympians during the results show, which took place at the famous Blackpool ballroom, as the 30-year-old long jumper was pitched against fellow athlete and gymnast Claudia Fragapane in the dreaded dance-off.
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Farewell: It was Greg Rutherford's turn to say goodbye to Strictly Come Dancing on Sunday night, as he became the ninth celebrity to be voted off the competition
Despite dazzling with a toe-tapping Quickstep on Saturday night, the athlete found himself second from the bottom of the leader board.
However the viewers' vote had not been enough to save him either, landing him and partner Natalie Lowe in the bottom two for the second week in a row, alongside gymnast Claudia Fragapane and partner AJ Pritchard.
Both couples then took to the Blackpool floor once again in a bid to remain in the competition - but it was Claudia's jive which ultimately impressed, securing a clean sweep of votes from the judges.
Fight to the finish: His Quickstep had not been enough to save him, landing him and partner Natalie Lowe in the bottom two, alongside Claudia Fragapane and partner AJ Pritchard
Kicking off the feedback, Craig said of the tense battle: 'Well both couples I thought improved enormously and I don't really want to say goodbye to either of these couples.
'I have great respect for them but the couple closer to perfection for me and that I'd like to save, Claudia and AJ.'
Darcey followed suit, admitting: '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'd would like to save for the stronger technique, Claudia and AJ.'
Improved: The judges acknowledged that Greg had 'improved enormously' and performed a 'much better performance' than on Saturday
Pipped to the post: However it was Claudia's jive which ultimately impressed, securing a clean sweep of votes from the judges
It was Bruno Tonioli who secured Claudia's survival with a third vote for the young pair, declaring: 'Well first let me say it was so much fun watching both of you tonight.
'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, Claudia and AJ.'
Head Judge Len then agreed and said he would have voted for Claudia and AJ too if the former judges had been split in their decision.
Emotional: Talking to Tess about his Strictly experience, Greg gushed: 'It's been one of the most of incredible things in my life'
Friends for life: Meanwhile partner Natalie called him 'an amazing man' and admired him for 'getting out there and showing the world that you can dance'
Talking to Tess about his Strictly experience, Greg gushed: 'It's been one of the most of incredible things in my life.
I've been very lucky in my life and I've done some amazing things but this is truly one of the best things I've done,' before bringing blonde beauty Natalie in for a cuddle and adding: 'I've much such a good friend here.'
Natalie had nothing but praise for her redheaded partner in return, emotionally telling him: '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.'
Better than a gold medal? Greg added on the experience: 'I've been very lucky in my life and I've done some amazing things but this is truly one of the best things I've done'
'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.'
Despite being disappointed by the prospect of leaving, Greg also waved goodbye to the competition with a sense of pride after reaching the annual Blackpool milestone.
Taking to the famous ballroom floor on Saturday night, the gold medalist matched his highest score so far of 32 with his bouncing Quickstep to Hand Jive by Cha Na Na.
The famous ballroom: Despite being disappointed by the prospect of leaving, Greg also waved goodbye with a sense of pride after reaching the annual Blackpool milestone
The dance had been met with high praise from the judges, even though he had made a few mistakes during the routine.
Bruno called the dance 'sporty, bouncy and bubbly' and admitted it was 'good to see a brighter side of you', while Darcey acknowledged he had 'natural spring and no problem travelling' but did 'lose control and make little mistakes'.
Meanwhile notoriously critical judge Craig confessed that he had 'danced it brilliantly', after he received a standing ovation from the audience.
Out on a high: The gold medalist had matched his highest score so far of 32 on Saturday night with his bouncing Quickstep to Hand Jive by Cha Na Na
Happy: Greg and Natalie were thrilled after their performance, with Bruno calling it 'sporty, bouncy and bubbly' while Darcey acknowledged he had 'natural spring'
Claudia and AJ however did secure a place in next week's show - alongside Ore Oduba, Judge Rinder, Louise Redknapp, Ed Balls and Danny Mac, who secured the first perfect score of 2016 with his Charleston.
The couples will be feeling the pressure this coming week however as next Saturday's episode will feature a never-before seen feature - taking shape as an extra dance competition for the contestants.
All six hopefuls will be taking to the floor at the same time for a Cha Cha Challenge - where extra valuable points from the judges will be up for grabs.
Getting playful: Claudia and AJ however did secure a place in next week's edition of the beloved show - alongside Ore Oduba, Judge Rinder, Louise Redknapp, Ed Balls and Danny Mac
Upping the stakes: However the pressure is on for all six hopefuls next Saturday as they will be taking to the floor at the same time for a Cha Cha Challenge - where extra points from the judges will be up for grabs
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3954984/This-truly-one-best-things-ve-Greg-Rutherford-voted-Strictly-Blackpool-Olympic-battle-dance-gymnast-Claudia-Fragapane.html#ixzz4QbFTGqt1
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