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Strictly champ Aliona to quit after seven years on the show

By Helen Pye

Strictly Come Dancing professional Aliona Vilani will not be returning to the show, despite winning this year's competition with singer Jay McGuiness.

The Kazakhstan-born dancer joined Strictly in 2009 and is the only professional to win the show twice - in 2011 with McFly's Harry Judd and leaving on a high with the Glitterball Trophy in 2015.

She tweeted: "Going into this Strictly Come Dancing Series 13, I decided that no matter what would happen, it will be my last one," with a heart emoticon at the end.

She added: "After seven years on Strictly Come Dancing, as my finale, this has been my best Strictly experience ever by a long way!"

She accompanied the tweets with images of her and McGuiness holding their Glitterball trophy aloft.

Vilani and The Wanted star McGuiness became hot favourites for the title early in the show after they achieved the series' first score of 10 from a single judge (Bruno Tonioli) with their Pulp Fiction-themed jive to Chuck Berry's You Never Can Tell.

Despite placing third on the judges' leaderboard in the final, the pair beat EastEnders actress Kellie Bright and Coronation Street star Georgia May Foote in the public vote.

In seven years on the show, Vilani has also been partnered with Rav Wilding, Matt Baker, Tony Jacklin, Gregg Wallace, and - briefly - Johnny Ball, before Vilani was forced to exit the competition following an injury. She also won last year's Christmas Special with gymnast Louis Smith.

Belfast Telegraph


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