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No Dad-Dancing from Iwan!

by Editor
Thursday 1st October 2015

Iwan Thomas on Strictly... it's like waiting for an Olympic Final!

Iwan Thomas on Strictly... it's like waiting for an Olympic Final!

Iwan Thomas is still the British record holder for 400m, with a time of 44:36 set in 1997. In a successful career on the track he won Gold medals at Commonwealth, European and World level, plus an Olympic Silver in the 4*400m in Atlanta in 1996, where he also finished fifth in the individual event.

Right now however, Iwan is busy as a contestant on the new series of Strictly Come Dancing. With just 17 points scored with partner Ola Jordan in week one, it may not have been the fast start he was looking for, but Strictly is more marathon than sprint. The competitive athlete is ready for the challenge though and plans to "give it everything", in the all-encompassing show which has taken over his life...

So Iwan, how does one end up on the show?

"I got a phone call that they wanted to see me from my agent, we met up and had a chat... but then you have to keep it quiet for two months and that's really hard! What made it even harder was that I was the last person they announced. The secrecy is incredible beforehand, they even disguise your name in all correspondence, so I was 'Merlin'. It even went to the point that when I went for a medical, I was booked in as Mr. Merlin...

"Of course, I'm not a dancer, but I'm really happy to be part of the show. The only thing I can compare it too is when I did Masterchef - I was a terrible cook at the start, but I got better, and then actually made it to the final and finished second, so hopefully I can get better at the dancing too".

Week one and the first dance is out of the way now. How do you think it went, and what is it like waiting knowing that eight million or so people are watching you live on TV, in a discipline that is new to you?

"I thought I did ok to be fair. Waiting to go on is nerve wracking, it's like waiting for an Olympic final in some ways - except that you are completely out of your comfort zone. In athletics the stopwatch doesn't lie, it's there in black and white - win or lose - but there is that subjective element with dancing. You really need to become thick-skinned and immerse yourself in it... it's quite tough when you do all of the training, do you best, and then the judges slate you!"

How tough is the training and preparation?

"It's really tough, definitely one of the toughest things I've ever done. It's very physical, but it's also tough mentally. You work so hard, then at times I go home confused, convinced I can't remember any of the steps! I really hate not being any good at anything though, so I have to give it everything. I think that inner athlete will come out. It's not easy though, because when you really focus that can be your downfall. That was one of my problems last week, if you look at my face I was a bit 'zoned out' because you end up thinking too much, when you have to get the balance with just 'feeling' the music and being part of the dance, not just struggling to remember the steps.

"This week we are doing the Cha-cha-cha, and so I think it will be six hours training today, five hours tomorrow, eight hours the day after that..."

Tell me a bit about your dance partner, Ola Jordan?

"Ola is absolutely great. She's a tough cookie. She's tough but she's fair too. She can be harsh when it's warranted, but I think I need that. A bit like my athletics coach actually! She pushes me, and that's what I want and need, so I'm really happy to have her as a partner."

Iwan Thomas on Strictly... it's like waiting for an Olympic Final!

What's been the most enjoyable elements so far?

"I've really enjoyed it all. It sounds a bit corny perhaps, but, it really is such a nice team of people involved in the show. The judges being harsh can be hard, but they know what they are doing - they are the professionals - so we just have to keep working and improving to make them happy".

Any plans for any other challenges in the future - we've spoken about the possibility of doing an Ironman previously for example?

"Right now I can't think of ANYTHING else. Seriously, Strictly has totally taken over my life right now. I will look to do another challenge, whether it's and Ironman or something else in the future, but that can wait until my dancing days are over!"


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