From Russia with love!
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New to the Strictly family in 2016, Katya quickly stole the show with her high energy routines and enthusiastic political partner Ed Balls. The pair finished in an impressive sixth place, but she topped that (and then some) in 2017 when she lifted the Glitterball with celeb partner Joe McFadden by her side!
In 2018 Katya teamed up with comedian Seann Walsh, and the duo made it to Halloween Week.
Born Ekaterina Sokolova, Katya’s story kicks off in her hometown of Saint Petersburg, Russia, where she began dancing at just six years old. Katya trained in both ballroom and Latin, as well as gymnastics, and soon hit the competition circuit.
In 2008, two of Katya’s coaches - including former Strictly professional Karen Hardy - recommended a partner they felt she’d work well with. That partner was Neil Jones, and the coaches were right – as a pair, Katya and Neil made their first major final within less than a year.
A win at the WDC World Championships followed, as well as three titles at the World Amateur Latin Championships, before they finally turned pro in 2013 – the very same year they tied the knot. Turns out those coaches were inadvertently playing Cupid!
Katya will have to put her hubby on hold for another series though, as she takes on the task of turning another celebrity novice into a ballroom pro. Good luck!