Former rugby international Gareth Thomas has quit Channel 4 show The Jump due to "personal reasons", it has been announced. The sporting ace, 42, will be replaced by The Only Way Is Essex star Lydia Bright just days before Sunday's finale. A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: "Gareth Thomas has withdrawn due to personal reasons." Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, Paralympic medallist Kadeena Cox and British socialite Emma Parker Bowles will be competing in the series finale of the popular winter sports competition.
Gareth is the fourth celebrity to withdraw from this year's series. Model Caprice suffered an illness, Olympian Sir Bradley Wiggins injured his leg and HELLO! blogger Vogue Williams was forced to pull out before the show aired on television. Vogue, 31, has since opened up about her disappointment for not being able to compete. "It was just such a pity and I'm devastated to say that I'm now out of the show," she wrote in her blog. "I've ruptured my ACL in my knee so I'm going to be out of action for about three months. I was practicing my ski cross and had a fall."
Although the star will be needing an operation on her knee, the accident certainly hasn't put her off from attempting the experience again once she is back on her feet. "I'm really hoping that the show comes back next year because I would jump at the chance of being on it again," she admitted. "I wouldn't swop the last couple of months for anything because I've honestly had the best time… The first live show is tonight so be sure to tune in, my mum, sister, auntie and sister's girlfriend had all booked flights out to support me OOPS! I'm pretty disappointed that they won't get to see me compete but we'll have such a laugh at the live show."
The controversial Channel 4 show returned for its fourth series in February following a safety standards review of the 2016 competition, which saw several contestants suffer severe injuries. Last year, Channel 4 released a statement about the show's safety, saying: "All events are planned with thorough health and safety procedures in place and the competitors' safety is always of upmost importance. There will always be an element of risk when competing in winter sports but all competitors undergo rigorous training and instruction with health and safety experts present. No competitor is cleared to take part unless the trainers deem their ability as proficient."