Jody Cundy’s inspiring reason for signing up for Strictly Come Dancing

Jody Cundy has revealed his inspiring reasons for signing up for Strictly Come Dancing.

The celebrated Paralympian is stepping into a whole new arena as heads onto the dancefloor of Strictly Come Dancing.

Ahead of the first live show, Jody admits he was originally set to decline to take part in the series.

Jody Cundy & Jowita Przytal
Jody Cundy & Jowita Przytal. Credit: BBC/Ray Burniston

He recalls his thought process, saying: “When I got the phone call, it was like, that is Strictly Come Dancing, the biggest show on BBC! I can’t imagine myself dancing, no, I won’t do it. Then I was like, actually, it’s Strictly Come Dancing, it’s the biggest show on TV, and it’s pretty cool.

“I started chatting to my fiancé about it, she was like ‘let’s do it!’. So, it took about a week between myself, my fiancé, the team at British Cycling to try and see how we’re going to balance everything out.”

The timing, with the Paralympics a year away, isn’t ideal for preparation. However, Jody sees this as an opportunity to raise the profile of disability in sport.

“In Paralympic sport, you see Paralympic athletes once every four years and you have to basically relearn who they are every four years, so, if I can make a name for myself here, then maybe we’ll have a few more fans that watch the Paralympics next year in Paris and hopefully I’ll be there and they’ll be able to support as well,” he explains.

For Jody, the biggest challenge lies in learning to dance from scratch. He humorously describes himself as “ground zero” in the world of dance, stating, “I am ground zero, so whoever my pro is, they’ve got their work cut out for them.” Overcoming his initial hesitation, he hopes to dance with his children and fiancé and become more comfortable with dancing in social settings.

When it comes to embracing the “Strictly-fied” lifestyle, Jody is all in. He expresses his trust in the show’s team and their expertise in creating appealing visuals. He’s even open to the idea of a fake tan, noting that it might be necessary to avoid appearing too fair-skinned on TV.

Reflecting on memorable moments from previous Strictly series, Jody recalls admiring graceful dancers like Colin Jackson and Louis Smith. He highlights Jonnie Peacock as the first Paralympian to appear on the show and he aims to replicate the seamless way Jonnie made dancing look effortless despite having a prosthetic limb.

Jody Cundy smiles as he poses in a tuxedo in front of a purple glittering background
Strictly Come Dancing 2023: Jody Cundy Credit: BBC/Ray Burmiston

Jody has received advice from former contestants, particularly Lauren Steadman, who encouraged him to reach out if needed. The overarching advice he’s taken to heart is to smile and enjoy the experience, recognizing that it’s a unique opportunity.

As for Jody’s dance background, it’s virtually non-existent. He humorously recounts a victory dance at the Rio Paralympics, inspired by a suggestion from Alex Brooker, a moment that showcased his dance moves.

In preparation for the show, Jody has been diligently watching dance videos on YouTube, analysing the steps, movements and interactions between dancers and their partners. He acknowledges the many layers involved in learning to dance and is focusing on mastering one layer at a time.

Among his fellow contestants, Jody has interacted with Krishnan Guru Murthy through their shared involvement in the Paralympics, making him the only familiar face among the competitors.

When asked about his biggest competition, Jody identifies Bobby as a dark horse. He’s impressed by Bobby’s dedication to practice and his commitment to mastering dance moves.

While Jody is naturally competitive, he remains focused on each step of the journey. He’s looking forward to the prospect of making it to Blackpool, a significant milestone in the Strictly competition.

Lastly, when questioned about a signature dance move, Jody humorously admits to shuffling away from the dancefloor or recalling his victory dance in Rio.

Strictly Come Dancing begins on Saturday, 23 September at 6:15PM on BBC One.