Pendleton flies Team GB flag on Strictly Come Dancing

Celebrity dance-off show Strictly Come Dancing has thrown a little of the Olympic magic into the mix for the new series. Cycling gold medallist Victoria Pendleton and gymnastics silver medallist Louis Smith will be among the celebrities to try out their tangos and paso dobles.

The emotional Pendleton retired from cycling at the end of the London Olympics. She has just published her autobiography and is looking for a new career beyond sport. A Strictly success might launch her onto the celebrity circuit. Pendleton’s spokesperson confirmed her participation: "It’s pretty exciting and no doubt she'll work at it to become a very good dancer. That is what athletes do."

Smith meanwhile, still harbours sporting ambitions. He was very unlucky to miss out on gold in London, but some of his gymnastics moves might come in handy on the dancefloor. Ironically Smith tried out for rival show The X Factor a couple of years ago but was rejected.

Other contestants in the new series of Strictly include former model Jerry Hall, soap actor Sid Owen, Westlife singer Nicky Byrne, Girls Aloud member Kimberly Walsh, West End star Denise Van Outen, TV host Fern Britton and kids TV presenter Johnny Ball. "Doing Strictly is amazing," Britton said. "It makes you feel life is wonderful. When people say they feel sad after getting kicked out, it's true."

Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan will be hoping to follow in the successful dance steps of cricketers Mark Ramprakash and Darren Gough, who both excelled on Strictly.

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