Strictly stars share sweet messages for 'inspirational' Claudia Fragapane


Claudia Fragapane's exit from Strictly Come Dancing the week before the finals was an emotional one, as the gymnast came oh-so close with her partner AJ Pritchard.

She had competed against Danny Mac in the dance-off, performing a quickstep to When You're Smiling by Andy Williams, but failed to get the backing of the judges and she and AJ became the 12th couple to leave the BBC series.

Strictly Come Dancing
Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC/PA Images)

And, following her departure, the 19-year-old athlete's co-stars have shared the sweetest of messages of support and gratitude, with perhaps the best coming from Ore Oduba, who has now made it into the final.

BBC sports presenter Ore shared a snap on Instagram of himself interviewing Claudia a couple of years ago, long before taking part in Strictly had entered either of their minds.

He wrote: "Who knew 2 years ago in Glasgow @claudiafrag??? Inspirational woman, incredible dancer & my amazing friend #soproud ?#Strictly."

Danny added his own message on Twitter, writing: "A gorgeous, talented, remarkable, joyous & inspirational young lady. I adore you @claudia_frag. Incredibly brilliant in every single way xx."

Understandably, professional dancer AJ became quite emotional as he shared a handful of Instagram posts with beautiful messages for his partner.

He gushed: "I am so PROUD OF YOU Claudia .... You are an Inspiration ..... Thank you everyone for all the Support it means the world to us."

A second read: "Wow - What a Fantastic Performance. Thank you for being you. Gorgeous person inside & out, @bbcstrictly #Quickstep."

He went on: "Thank you to everyone for all the LOVE & support, Claudia & I can't thank you enough, we are truly overwhelmed. Thank you to the whole @bbcstrictly team #BEST it wouldn't happen without you."

A video shared by the official Strictly Twitter account showed the remaining three couples, also including Louise Redknapp, highly praising the gymnast and AJ, who was taking part in his first series on the show.

Danny, in particular, looked quite tearful as he said he was "lost for words" over Claudia's effort.

Claudia's official "lunch buddy" Louise said she was "amazing" and that it was hugely difficult to see her leave the competition.

Louise, Ore and Danny - who are partnered with Kevin Clifon, Joanne Clifton and Oti Mabuse respectively - will dance for the glitterball trophy in the Strictly grand final this weekend.