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Matt: Winning DOI would be like Olympic gold

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    Posted: 14 Jan 2012 at 09:57

Matt: Winning DOI would be like Olympic gold

Figure hugging ... Matthew Wolfenden in spangly lycra on Dancing On Ice
Ken McKay

Published: Today at 00:42

EMMERDALE star Matthew Wolfenden was gutted when an injury shattered his Olympic dreams – but reckons a gold in Dancing On Ice will make up for it.

The actor began training as a gymnast at the age of four.

But he broke his back after falling from the rings during training aged 17.

His spine was so badly damaged that he couldn't go back to gymnastics, so he decided to become an actor instead.

Now, as London prepares to host the Olympics where Matthew could have been representing his country, he claims taking victory in the ITV1 show would be just as sweet as landing a gold medal.

He said: "Gymnastics was my life and then one mistake and it was all over.

"I started training in gymnastics when I was about four. I was in the British team when I was 14, stayed until 17 and was ready to go to the next level, which would have been getting to the Olympic standard.

"Unfortunately, I was training late at night on the rings and I was tired. I lost concentration and landed on my head instead of on my feet. I fractured two vertebrae in my spine.

"I spent a good few weeks in bed and couldn't walk very well.

Dogged determination ... Matthew Wolfenden during 10K run in 2009
"They knew I would walk, but my back was so bruised and damaged. I had about three years of constant therapy to fully recover. I tried to go back to gymnastics but my back wouldn't do the things it used to.

"I wore a back support for years and I still put one on if I am driving for long periods.

"But training for Dancing On Ice helps because it improves your core strength.

What he could have won ... Olympic gold
"That's why I got into dancing. Then I got a job on the West End which led to Emmerdale."

Matthew admits he has never lost the competitive edge that got him into the British gymnastics squad. And he is desperate to take victory on the ice.

Matthew, whose has a 21-month-old son by his Emmerdale co-star girlfriend Charley Webb, said: "I'd have loved to have been in the Olympics but it would be as good as winning an Olympic gold if I won Dancing On Ice!

"People might not be as impressed but it would mean a lot to me. I'm enjoying the show so much, I've learned a new skill.

"I'm still competitive — I keep fit and do triathalons."

Being a dancer and former gymnast should give Matthew — who makes his debut on the ice on tomorrow night's show — a head start against the other stars.

But Matthew reckons it isn't helping — yet. He said: "I think if I stay in the competition then I'll get better on my skates, but at the moment I'm not good enough on the skates for my dancing skills to help.

"When I'm more secure on my skates then hopefully it will all be useful."

Matthew, who will be skating to Give Me Everything by Pitbull, will be thrilling fans by showing off his body in black leather.

His costumes are being made by the same tailor who designs clothes for rockers Kasabian.

He said: "Tomorrow I am not wearing the pink Lycra my mates teased me about — I'm all in black leather.

"It's fantastic. The guy whose made my costume makes Kasabian's clothes for the stage.

"It's all black leather, with studs over it."

Being on Dancing On Ice seems to leave contestants in the best shape of their lives. And it seems Matthew is no different.

After watching his dress rehearsal last week, the audience was whistling at his Lycra-clad body so much that the rest of the contestants have nicknamed him Matthew Wolfwhistle.

He said: "I didn't hear the wolf whistles as I was concentrating on my skating.

"But Matthew Wolfwhistle isn't the worst nickname to have.

The Sun
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