Strictly Come Dancing | Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev on missing last weekend’s show
“Last week was an accumulation of a few weeks of tiredness, after going through having an epidural, a steroid injection and taking pain killers. I had been feeling tired all week and on Friday my legs were giving up on me.
“When I arrived on Saturday morning I didn’t feel too bad, I felt a bit stiff and a little tired but no more than anyone else. I fainted during band rehearsals and when I tried to dance again at the dress run, to see if I had the strength to get through the dance, I fainted again – it had become clear that I was exhausted. I always want to give it my all but this time I had clearly pushed myself too far! The fainting was nothing sinister; I just needed a good sleep and some rest.
“I’ve never fainted before so it was a new, scary experience; it was a hugely unfortunate and disappointing climax to the most dramatic few weeks I think I’ve ever gone through. But after seeing a couple of doctors the verdict was exhaustion and the advice was very common-sensed based; rest and eat well.
“I was devastated not to perform as the jive was a fabulous number, but health matters above everything else – it was a wakeup call. I will take things a little easier.
“Artem was a tower of strength throughout the day – he was very caring and supportive. It was very scary for him too – he’s looking after me so experiencing that first hand must have been horrible – especially to see me go down like that. I’m very grateful to him, he was understanding and was really worried about me. It was frustrating not to perform the jive as he is a genius choreographer but there will be other dances. I’m happy I’m back and healthy.
“I never took it for granted that I would be allowed through to Blackpool. I had no expectations, but I was told that the rules of the show state you get one bye and I was so grateful that that was exercised.
“I’m not concerned that I will faint again. I think last Saturday was a freak accident that was a result of several weeks of tiredness. I’m feeling really refreshed and I won’t allow that to happen again.
“All the support we have been receiving is mind blowing. Despite all the drama with my back and fainting I’m having the time of my life and my responsibility is to get out there and give it my all because the fans are so incredibly supportive. I’m from Lancashire and we used to go to Blackpool as kids, it’s close to home and it’s going to be really emotional to perform there. It’s a stunning venue, it’s the home of ballroom and I am honoured to be dancing there.”
“My first thought was something wrong with her back so ran up to her, and she was shaking and crying. I thought she might be in pain. I tried to lift her but couldn’t, then when she felt a bit more present we put her in wheelchair.
“If you’re exhausted you’re not going to all of a sudden get your strength back, it’s not going to happen. At the end of the day it’s just a show and your health is a lot more important, health comes first regardless, it means nothing if you’re not feeling well.
“What you don’t realise is how much effort and days, how many hours of rehearsing, people don’t see. You are living it 24 hours a day. People might think they (the celebrities) do a few hours and go home – it doesn’t work that way. It’s like when people get ready for prom, you get ready for 2 weeks constantly, the pressure gets more and more each day, so on Saturday you feel at the peak.
“It’s not about me being disappointed (to miss the show), for me it’s just a dance, it’s special for Natalie – it was one of her favourite songs to dance to. The sad part for me is that she didn’t get to do it after putting in all the effort. She cannot regret it because it was not up to her.
“Having a bye is fair. Knowing the dance was good, she should be in Blackpool. I’m not being biased because she’s my partner, as a viewer I think people would agree that dancing wise she should be in Blackpool.”