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Kevin Clifton on whether Strictly background helped his time on ITV’s The Games

Kevin Clifton (Ian West/PA)
Kevin Clifton (Ian West/PA)

Former Strictly Come Dancing pro Kevin Clifton has said his dance background has not been as much help as people might think during training for new ITV show The Games.

The professional dancer is one of 12 celebrities who will battle it out across 10 track and field Olympic sports over a week of live programming from Monday.

The 39-year-old said that turning 40 in October was one of his motivations for taking on the challenge as he wants to attack his 40s in the “best shape of his life”.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain (GMB), Clifton said: “People keep saying for each event, ‘Oh, you’re a dancer, you’re going to be good at this’, but for most of them, doing the 400 metres or doing the hurdles or something, I don’t know how much doing the paso doble translates to it.

“So everyone’s expecting big things but I’m finding that I’m better with a prop. So things like the kayak, slalom, the hammer.

“When it just comes down to raw speed and power, I’m not the best at it, but when I’ve got a prop or a partner or something I’m not so bad.”

GMB guest presenter Martin Lewis suggested the hammer throw must be a “perfect” event for a dancer as it requires balance, poise and timing.

Clifton said he had got the spinning and footwork “down really easy”, but his dancing habits had been getting in the way.

He told the show: “I keep doing this thing that we call spotting in dancing where you keep turning and leaving your head in one place.

“So rather than swinging around with a hammer, I’m sort of giving you a flamboyant dance turn and I’m trying to get out of that habit.”

Strictly Come Dancing 2018
Kevin Clifton won Strictly Come Dancing with his now-girlfriend Stacey Dooley in 2018 (Guy Levy/PA)

Clifton was a professional dancer on Strictly from 2013 to 2019, and won the competition in 2018 with documentary maker Stacey Dooley, who is now his girlfriend.

He will put his athletic ability to the test against fellow celebs including ex-Love Islanders Wes Nelson and Olivia Attwood, former Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas and Harry Potter actor Josh Herdman.

Model and autism ambassador Christine McGuinness, The Wanted star Max George, Emmerdale actor Rebecca Sarker, footballer and singer-songwriter Chelcee Grimes, Corrie actor Colson Smith, ITV newsreader Lucrezia Millarini, and influencer, model and daughter of Spice Girl Mel B, Phoenix Brown, will also compete.

The celebrities will take on events including diving, cycling, running and weightlifting, each trying to rack up enough points to top the medals table and be crowned Champion of The Games 2022.

Clifton said he had enjoyed his 30s and that, in terms of dancing, he he had done everything he wanted to do and was eager for a new challenge in his 40s.

The dancer added: “I didn’t want to hit 40 and go, ‘Oh, I’ve done everything, is now the time to let everything go’.

“I thought, ‘No, maybe 40, I can attack it. Maybe 40s can be great as well’.

“So yeah, I thought I want to attack 40 in the best shape of my life and The Games is a good opportunity to do that.”

Clifton said he was one of the celebrities on the show who were jumping into wheelie bins of ice at the end of the athletics training.

He admitted it was “pretty horrible” but the group had become competitive to see who could stay in the longest, noting that his record was seven minutes.

The Games starts on May 9 at 9pm on ITV.

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