Dorothy Hamill says she is heartbroken after withdrawing from "Dancing With The Stars" due to an injury, but takes comfort in the fact that she may have gained a friend for life -- her partner, Tristan MacManus.
On Tuesday's episode of the ABC ballroom dancing series, the 56-year-old Olympic figure skating champion became the first contestant out of 12 to exit season 16 after just two weeks of on-air performances. She had developed a cyst on her spine, which caused nerve damage to one of her legs and feet, and withdrew from the competition following her doctor's advice.
"The cast, everybody, just the whole cast, crew, every department on this wonderful show is just so like a family and it just breaks my heart to not be around but it's not fair to everyone," Hamill told OTRC.com. "Getting better, you know, is something that's going to take some time and I guess that's the priority and I just feel so badly for Tristan. I didn't want to let him down and I wanted to learn to dance."
"Surgery is sort of the last option and I will see my spine surgeon on Friday and we'll assess it from there," she added about her injury. "It's something that if I don't take care of, I'll have permanent foot, leg, nerve damage so it's rest, you know, so I have to figure out through whatever it is they tell me. I'm willing to do anything and everything so, that's the most important thing."
The pair had scored a total of 36 out of 60 points for their two performances on "Dancing With The Stars," placing them in the lower half of the leaderboard, which is currently being topped by celebrity contestants Disney Channel star Zendaya Coleman and Kellie Pickler of "American Idol" fame.
"I think what says even more for her character is the fact that she danced yesterday [on Monday] because we could've made that decision [to withdraw] yesterday ... Tonight was just an extra, extra, extra piece of character," said MacManus, 30.
While the two will not be taking home the Mirrorball Trophy, Hamill listed other things she has gained from her experience on "Dancing With The Stars."
"Oh my gosh -- friends. Some of the dearest friends in the world," she said, pointing to MacManus. "If I have this friend for the rest of my life, there couldn't be a more incredible trophy than that. He is a true, true gentleman, just one of the finest human beings I've ever known. He's the real deal. It's not about the fame and fortune, he's just a dear, kind young man."
"That's nice of her, but I mean plenty of Olympians go to the Olympics and not come back with medals either. They're still Olympians," MacManus replied, looking down at Hamill and hugging her. "Irish people don't cry. sorry."
(Read a RECAP of week 2 of "Dancing With The Stars," which also featured a "Less Than Perfect" cast reunion for contestant Andy Dick. Also check out photos of the "DWTS" couples dancing on the March 25, 2013 episode.Reporting by George Pennacchio of KABC Television, which produces the entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).