Strictly Nikitas life – health battle, co-star romance and fears for Ukraine

Nikita Kuzmin has been whirling partners around the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom since 2021.

During his first year on the show, he was partnered with Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly, making it to the tenth week of the competition before being knocked out just before the quarter finals.

This year, the 24-year-old joined forces with Paralympian Ellie Simmonds, with the duo comparing their sad exit to a breakup after becoming the sixth couple eliminated from the competition.

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Away from the BBC show, Nikita has opened up about his health battle and voiced concern for fears for his family in Ukraine.

Family life

Nikita was born in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1997 and spent the early years of his life in the Ukrainian capital with his parents and older sister Anastasia.

At the age of nine, Nikita and his family moved to Italy to allow Anastasia to pursue a career in dancing.

But it quickly became clear that Nikita's older sibling wasn't the only one who had a passion and talent for dancing as he began doing the same at just four years old.

Anastasia, who is four years older than Nikita, became a professional dancer at just eight years old, quickly becoming a known figure on the international ballroom stage.

In 2012, the dancer joined the Italian version of Strictly, Ballado con le Stelle as a professional dancer, lifting the gliterball during her first series with model and actor Andrés Gil.

At the age of 18, Nikita left Italy and went on to live in Frankfurt, Germany.

Dance career

After watching his sister glide across the ballroom, Nikita took inspiration from his big sister and began his own career as a dancer.

It wasn't long before he carved a name for himself in the ballroom, scooping an impressive six Italian Championship titles for his talents.

Before joining Strictly, the star had his fair share of experience on dance competitions, becoming a regular performer on German dance show, Let's Dance.

As Nikita's success continued, he joined the cast of Strictly in 2021 where he was partnered with Tilly Ramsay.

Health battle

Nikita lives with Type 1 diabetes which is a chronic disease that needs to be monitored every day.

The dancer has a white patch that sits on the back of his arm called a Libre sensor which monitors his blood sugar levels.

He was praised during his dance off with the chef's daughter after spontaneously

Speaking on Morning Live last month, the Ukrainian dancer reflected on the moment he was first diagnosed with diabetes as a teenager, and admitted he thought his dancing career "was over".

"Nikita is someone dealing with it," host Gethin Jones remarked. "You have Type One diabetes. There must have been times when you thought, 'My goodness, is this really going to affect my career as a dancer?'"

"Yeah," the 24-year-old replied. "I mean, first of all, the message I would really love to send to all the kids and general people is that this is our superpower.

"We get to learn how to be responsible from a young age. How to deal with problems with the condition.

And second of all, it's really important that we find someone with the same condition that we can look up to."

He continued: "Like when I found out, I was 13 and I just came back to Ukraine and at that time, I'd been dancing already for nine years.

"I lived in three countries and everything because of that.

"So when I found out, I thought, 'My career's over,' and the next morning I woke up and I saw all those kids smiling and they were happy and they were diabetics just like me.

"I went out of my room and – this is one of my best memories in my life – there was this wall of fame.

"It was all of the famous, successful diabetics – Olympians, Paralympians, presidents, actors – everything.

"And actually, I think I made quite a few of them up because I thought there was quite a few more people than there actually were.

"I checked a couple of days ago and most of them were not even there!"

Co-star 'romance'

Earlier this year, it was reported that Nikita had "grown close" to his co-star, CBBC presenter Molly Rainford.

Molly is partnered with pro dancer Carlos Gu for the 2022 series.

A source told The Sun: “Nikita and Molly were attached at the hip during the [National Television Awards] after party.

“They spent time together with some of their Strictly co-stars but they seemed to only have eyes for each other. They kept staring at each other and were being very tactile.

“When the night was over Nikita and Molly ordered Ubers separately but it appeared they were heading to the same place together as she was speaking to him about where they were going next."

However, Molly has since denied any dating rumours, insisting she is too busy with rehearsals to contemplate romance.

She said: "Nikita and I are just friends.

"I think because we are a similar age we just get on really well. I’m not looking for love. I’m definitely concentrating on work. I wouldn’t have any time to date at this point. I am way too busy.”

Nikita was previously in a relationship with fellow dancer Nicole Wirt. The pair were together for a number of years and would often share photos of them together on social media.

However, earlier this month, it was reported by the Mirror that the couple had since parted ways.

Although the reason was not revealed by either party, the publication stated it was so Nikita could focus solely on the show while Nicole remained in Germany. Since then, it is thought that the dancer has remained single.

Fears for family in Ukraine

Growing up in Ukraine, it's only natural for Nikita to be worried about his family members who are still over there since Russia declared war on the country earlier this year.

The dancer appeared on Loose Women alongside his dance partner Ellie Simmonds, explaining to the panelists: "It's quite difficult, therefore I try to – I call my grandparents every single day.

"It's really important for me to know what's happening. Of course, we can't avoid the war, we can't give up, but I hope it ends as soon as possible – and it's heartbreaking."

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