Dancing with the stars (of track and field)

Australia’s former world and Olympic pole vault champ Steve Hooker is the latest athletics star to appear on TV show Dancing with the Stars. Here, SPIKES looks at some of the other track and field stars that swapped their spikes for a leotard… 

1. Heike Henkel (Germany)

She had rhythm and grace as a world and Olympic high jump champion, but did she make the medal podium in the first season of ‘Let’s Dance’ in her native Germany?

No. She didn’t impress as a dancer, and was eliminated in week two.

2. Beatrice Faumuina (New Zealand)

Standing 5ft 11ins (1.80m) tall and weighing in at 116kg, the New Zealander gracefully pirouetted to world discus gold in 1997, but how did she fare on the dancefloor?

Very well. She was good enough to claim runners-up spot (sorry, silver) in series two.

3. Maurice Greene (USA)

Mean and moody on the track, the sprint ace took a hat-trick of world 100m titles at the turn of the millennium and Olympic 100m gold in Sydney, but are his feet as fast?

Not quite. After a slow start, Greene bettered the performance of Kim Kardashian, among others, and finished fifth overall in the seventh season of Dancing with the Stars USA.

4. Joachim Olsen (Denmark)

The 2004 Olympic shot put silver medallist is now a member of the Danish parliament, but did he impress the judges with his dance moves on ‘Vild med dans’?

Didn’t he just? Olsen and his partner Marianne Eihilt stormed to gold in the fifth season of the Danish edition.

5. Fiona May (Italy)

The British-born Italian was a stylish and fluent long jumper, who was good enough to win two world titles and a brace of Olympic silver medals, so did she translate that athletic ability to dancing?

Yes, of course. Fiona claimed victory in the third season of the Italian version ‘Ballando con le Stelle’ and has later revealed more versatility by starring as an actress in her adopted homeland.

6. Monika Pyrek (Poland)

The two-time world pole vault silver medallist retired earlier this year, but did she clamber straight onto the medal podium of Poland’s ‘Taniec z Gwaizdami’?

Yes! The rhythmic and well poised pole vaulter won the 12th season of the Polish dance contest.

7. Roger Black (Great Britain)

Known fondly, by some, as ‘sex on legs’ during a long and glittering career which saw him win men’s 4x400m gold at the Tokyo 1991 World Championships and Olympic 400m silver at the 1996 Atlanta Games. So how did his samba and salsa stack up?

Not well enough to get a medal. Black had to settle for fifth in series two of the British show, quaintly known as ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

8. Hezekiel Sepeng (South Africa)

The 800m man had a fondness for the colour silver as a world, Olympic and two-time Commonwealth second place finisher. Did he add more precious metal in South Africa’s version?

Close but no cigar. He was the fifth celebrity to be eliminated from season three, placing an agonising fourth overall.

9. Lars Riedel (Germany)

A five-time world champion and legend of the discus circle, but did the man mountain know his salsa from his quickstep?

No. He could only place fifth overall in season five of ‘Let’s Dance’.

10. Erki Nool (Estonia)

During a long and successful decathlon career, in which he landed Olympic and European gold medals, he proved a real all-rounder, but what about an eleventh event?

Yes! The man known for his large and gregarious fan club finished third in the first season of the Estonian edition.