Greg Rutherford: Strictly Come Dancing exit feels 'horrible'

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Olympic long jumper Greg Rutherford said it is "horrible" to be bowing out of Strictly Come Dancing as he became the ninth celebrity to leave the show.

Greg and his professional partner Natalie Lowe ended up in the dance-off alongside gymnast Claudia Fragapane and her partner AJ Pritchard, but the judges opted to save Claudia.

Natalie Lowe and Greg Rutherford
(BBC)

The champion sportsman and Natalie performed a quickstep at the Blackpool spectacular that earned them a score of 32 points.

Greg, who recently turned 30, said: "It's horrible, I mean it's something that completely engulfs your life and every aspect - I mean I am training 10 to 12 hours a day - I have been putting all my heart and soul into it.

Natalie Lowe and Greg Rutherford
(BBC)

"I would like to think I was getting better and improving but obviously not. It's a very, very tough year this year, there are some exceptional dancers and I knew I was never as good as those guys but I was going to try as hard as I possibly could to get as close as I could.

"Sadly for me it's finished now. I'm gutted. I spend all my time with Natalie at the moment, we have such a great partnership and such a great friendship that now I know on Monday morning I won't be doing that now and that's difficult."

Natalie Lowe and Greg Rutherford
(BBC)

After both couples had performed their routines again, the judges revealed which couple they were saving based on the dance-off.

All of the judges opted to save Claudia, with Craig Revel Horwood saying: "I have great respect for them but closer to perfection for me and the couple I'd like to save, Claudia and AJ."

Darcey Bussell said she was saving Claudia and AJ because of their "stronger technique", while Bruno Tonioli said he felt they were "stronger both content-wise and performance-wise".

Claudia and AJ
(BBC)

The anticipated Blackpool performances saw actor Danny Mac score the first 40 of the series for a "showstopper" Charleston.

Danny Mac scored a perfect 40
(BBC)

However, it was former shadow chancellor Ed Balls who stole the show as he was lowered from the Blackpool Winter Gardens Tower Ballroom ceiling playing a piano before taking to the dancefloor to jive with Katya Jones to the Jerry Lee Lewis hit Great Balls Of Fire.

Ed and his styled quiff earned a score of just 23 points, leaving them lingering at the bottom of the leaderboard once again.

Joint second on the leaderboard were former singer Louise Redknapp and partner Kevin Clifton and BBC sports presenter Ore Oduba with professional dancer Joanne Clifton, who scored 38 apiece.

Ed Balls
(Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

The results show included performances by singer Rick Astley and Simple Minds.

The remaining six couples will face a new challenge next weekend when they return to the dancefloor to tackle the Cha Cha Challenge, which will see them all performing a cha cha at the same time in the hope of earning extra points from the judges.

Strictly Come Dancing returns on November 26 at 7pm.