Pasha Kovalev has opened up about winning Strictly Come Dancing with the late Caroline Flack for the first time since her death in February. The professional dancer, who won the series in 2014 with the Love Island star, reflected on their time together during the show as he heaped praise on her incredible abilty to dance.
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Taking part in a live Q&A with Jewish youth organisation JLGB, Pasha - who is married to Rachel Riley - described Caroline as a humble person who "struggled to believe in herself" when it came to dance.
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"It was an amazing season," Pasha said, when asked about winning the series with the late star. "Caroline was an amazing dancer, who at first didn't believe in her ability. I saw her dancing on the first day of rehearsals, I knew she had a lot of potential dance wise."
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On how he encouraged her, Pasha added: "I kept reinforcing that in her. It took us pretty much a few weeks – week seven or eight – when we went to Blackpool.
"After that she started to believe in herself a bit more but not enough to say, 'Oh yes, I'm going to win this competition. I am the best dancer.' She was always saying, 'Oh this person is dancing so much better and this person is dancing so much better.'
Caroline and Pasha won the 12th series of Strictly Come Dancing
"My job was there was to be a rock for her, the person who she can lean on and know that whatever she does on stage, she can do it freely without looking back because she would know that I am right there supporting her."
In series 12, both Caroline and Pasha competed alongside the likes of Simon Webbe and Kristina Rihanoff, Frankie Bridge and Kevin Clifton as well as Mark Wright and Karen Hauer.
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"My favourite moments were coming into the finals, we had lots of beautiful dancers that I absolutely loved," continued Pasha. "In the final, we got to do the show dance, I decided to do something a little different to what has been done on Strictly's previous series. We went into something a little bit more dramatic, dug deep into the emotion and it worked."
The pair during their angelic show dance in the Strictly final
During the final, the duo achieved perfect scores from the judges on every performance - the first couple to do so ever in Strictly history. They performed their favourite routine of the series, the Charleston, to Istanbul (Not Constantinople) before their stunning show dance – an angelic routine to Robbie Williams' hit song Angels.
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"Even when I think about it, I get goose bumps because Caroline believed in it and really embodied that dance and the character," explained the former professional. "When she was dancing, it was like no one else existed.
"It was just her and I in a completely empty room, just dancing for ourselves – even with the audience around us and judges, millions of people watching from home. I guess we managed to channel our emotions and feelings into that routine that much we just dissolved in it and that was an unbelievable moment that I will always remember and cherish."