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'Dancing With The Stars' elimination: Dorothy Hamill drops out due to spinal injury

Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill and her partner Tristan MacManus talk with hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke-Charvet after withdrawing from the competition on the first results show for 'Dancing With The Stars' season 16 on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. (Adam Taylor)
March 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The stage was set on "Dancing With The Stars" Tuesday night. It was down to the bottom two, either boxer Victor Ortiz or reality star Lisa Vanderpump would be the first to go.

Then, in the show's final few minutes, there was an unexpected announcement from a star who had already been saved to dance next week: Olympic great Dorothy Hamill gracefully bowed out of the competition to focus on an injury she said could be irreparable.

Hamill had been dealing with weakness and numbness in her ankle due to a cyst on her back and it became too difficult - and dangerous - to dance.

"Surgery is sort of the last option and I will see my spine surgeon on Friday and we'll access it from there," she explained after the show. "It's something that if I don't take care, I'll have permanent foot, leg, nerve damage. So, it's rest."

Hamill started strong. In Week 1, she and partner Tristan MacManus were near the top of the judges' leaderboard. But this week, with her health affecting rehearsal time, they fell to the bottom.

"It just breaks my heart to not be around, but it's not fair to everyone, so getting better is just something that is going to take some time and I guess that's the priority," Hamill said.

Others noticed there was something wrong.

"I just saw her in pain and she was in tears and that was kind of hard to watch tonight, to be honest," Vanderpump said.

The gold medalist won't win the competition, but she sure won a lot of respect.

"Dorothy was my rock," comedian Andy Dick said. "Since the day we were announced on 'Good Morning America,' we bonded for some reason. But she's very motherly and she right away said how proud she was of me."

"I was really particularly proud of her for just bowing out, you know, in a way that let somebody else go on," comedian-actor D.L. Hughley said.

See photos of 'Dancing With The Stars' week 2 elimination night!

Hamill said sometimes you find victory in defeat.

"If I have this friend for the rest of my life, there couldn't be a more incredible trophy than that," she said of MacManus.

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