Claudia Fragapane bids an emotional farewell to Strictly as she and partner AJ Pritchard miss out on the final by losing dance-off to Danny Mac
Claudia Fragapane sadly missed out on a place in the Strictly final on Sunday night, as she become the 12th celebrity to be voted out of the beloved competition.
The Olympic gymnast, 19, and her partner AJ Pritchard, 22, were left in tears after they were defeated in a tense dance-off with Danny Mac and Oti Mabuse - missing out on the battle for the coveted glitterball trophy by just one week.
Becoming incredibly emotional as they bid the show farewell, the two youngsters wiped away their tears as they thanked each other for making the series so special.
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Emotional: Claudia Fragapane and her partner AJ Pritchard became the twelfth couple voted out of Strictly Come Dancing on Sunday night - missing out on the final by one week
Talking to Tess about her magical Strictly experience, Claudia gushed: 'I can't believe I made it this far to be honest.'
'Everyone is so lovely and I'm just so happy that I've made it this far and everyone has just been incredible people, and to come out and not be as confident as I was, I feel like a different person now, all thanks to this show.'
Turning to her professional partner, the pint-sized Olympian struggled to hold back her tears as she told him: 'You have been absolutely amazing. You really have pushed me to the best of my ability.
Had a ball: Claudia said of her time as a dancer: 'Everyone has just been incredible - to come out and not be as confident as I was, I feel like a different person now, all thanks to this show'
'You have been so lovely to me and you've really boosted my confidence and it's all thanks to you.'
Having formed a close friendship during their time on the show, AJ was quick to praise his partner in return as he added: 'I'm just so proud of her, so proud of how far you've come and just how confident you are now. Thank you.'
The youngest pair in the competition were pitted against Hollyoaks actor Danny Mac and his partner Oti in the dreaded dance-off.
No one wants to go: The youngest pair in the competition were pitted against Hollyoaks actor Danny Mac and his partner Oti in the dreaded dance-off
Potentially taking to the floor for the last time, both couples recreated their ballroom numbers from the night - with Claudia and AJ performing their Quickstep in full force, while Danny and Oti wowed with their seamless American Smooth.
While the actor eventually pipped the athlete to the post, all four judges acknowledged the high standard of both couples and how difficult it had been to choose between them.
Craig Revel Horwood said: 'Well both couples I have to say in that dance-off were worth 10's equally so it is so difficult.'
Friends for life: She added on her partner AJ: ''You have been so lovely to me and you've really boosted my confidence and it's all thanks to you'
While Darcey Bussell agreed, praising: 'Both performed to such an outstanding level tonight and it makes it very hard to choose between.'
Lastly Bruno Tonioli, who secured Danny's safety with the third vote, took the time to congratulate the couples 'because you were both excellent' - but explained that he had to go with the pair who held an 'extra edge in artistry and emotional impact.'
Len later admitted he too would have selected Danny - making the decision to put the hunk through to the final unanimous.
Success: Danny joins Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton (L) and Louise Redknapp and Kevin Clifton (R) in next week's final
The actor will compete in next week's grand finale with the other remaining contestants - Louise Redknapp and Ore Oduba, who partner sibling dancing duo Kevin and Joanne Clifton respectively.
The explosive ending will see each couple dance three routines - their favourite, the judges' choice, and a spectacular show-dance, in a bid to win the viewers' votes and the 2016 Glitter Ball trophy.
It has also been reported that Len Goodman, who will depart the show after the final but will appear in the pre-recorded Christmas special, will be putting on his dancing shoes for the big event.
Out on a high: Despite being left devastated by the results, Claudia certainly went out with a bang after scoring her highest mark in the competition so far on Saturday night
The dynamic duo built up a strong during the series, after wowing viewers with a string of sensational dances week on week.
Fans have even taken to Twitter in their thousands across the duration of the competition to bemoan the scoring of the pair - claiming they were continually under-marked by the judges.
During last night's show many users vented their frustration on the site - writing that Claudia and AJ were 'consistently fantastic and consistently under-marked', and that their tantalising Quickstep had been 'worth a perfect 40'.
Despite being left devastated by the results, Claudia certainly went out with a bang after scoring her highest mark in the competition so far on Saturday night.
Big following: Fans had even taken to Twitter after the performance to bemoan their 'low' scoring - claiming the pair deserved 40 for the toe-tapping routine
While she had been disappointed by the judges' feedback for her Rumba, she certainly packed a punch as she returned to the floor with a toe-tapping Quickstep.
Skipping and leaping around the floor When You're Smiling by Andy Williams, the routine certainly made everyone watching beam from ear to ear with its energetic Charleston opening, and complex set of kicks and flicks.
Darcey called the routine 'light and energetic' and praised her 'generous top line', while Len said: 'You've gone from gymnastic to fantastic.'
He also admitted as a professional dancer he understood how difficult it is to tackle such a fast-paced dance with Claudia and AJ being such different heights - and applauded the pair for overcoming the obstacle to perform such a winning routine.
Strictly Come Dancing - The Final will air on December 17 at 6.40pm on BBC One
Stunning: Darcey called the routine 'light and energetic' and praised her 'generous top line', while Len said: 'You've gone from gymnastic to fantastic'
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