Tearful Tonya Harding Says 'DWTS' Helped Her Find Way Back

Tonya Harding is slipping on her dance shoes to head to the stage of Dancing with the Stars: Athletes, and she is crediting the competition with helping her find her way back to herself.

After years of remaining out of the spotlight, former figure skater Tonya Harding is headed to ABC’s Dancing with the Stars for an all-athletes competition, and she says that the show and pro dancer Sasha Farber, her partner, have helped her find her way.

“I just have lost myself over the years. And my son and my husband have kept me alive. But this truly [is] something here,” she told Entertainment Tonight.

Harding made headlines for the 1994 scandal in which a man associated with her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, clubbed her competitor and fellow Olympic team member, Nancy Kerrigan, on the kneecap at skating practice. The attack ultimately resulted in Harding’s lifetime ban from American amateur skating.

“I went back to skating a year ago because… there was just something missing, you know? And obviously I have my son, and nothing is missing from that, but there was just something about me. I wanted to do more," she continued. "And when I had got that call, like now, I started crying."

Harding joins nine other fellow athletes who are vying for the Mirror Ball during the ABC dance competition’s 16th season.

The athletes, announced on Good Morning America on April 13, include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Johnny Damon, Mirai Nagasu, Chris Mazdzer, Josh Norman, Arike Ogunbowale, Jennie Finch, Jamie Anderson and Adam Rippon.

The show also revealed the 10 professional dancers returning to the lineup.

The group includes reigning mirror ball champion Lindsay Arnold, along with Sharna Burgess, Witney Carson, Emma Slater, Gleb Savchenko, Artem Chigvintsev, Keo Motsepe, Alan Bersten, Jenna Johnson and Sasha Farber.

Retired NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be partnered with pro Lindsay Arnold; MLB player Johnny Damon will dance with pro Emma Slater; Tonya Harding is heading to the ballroom with pro Sasha Farber; figure skater Mirai Nagasu is paired with pro Alan Bersten; figure skater Adam Rippon joins pro Jenna Johnson; snowboarder Jamie Anderson joins pro Artem Chigvintse; Olympic luger Chris Mazdzer will dance with pro Witney Carson; softball player Jennie Finch is paired with Keo Motsepe; NFL player Josh Norman will dance with Sharna Burgess; University of Notre Dame women's basketball player Arike Ogunbowale will dance with Gleb Savchenko.


Hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews will also return to their roles, while Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli are all returning to the judges table.

The all-athletes edition of the competition is slated to premiere on Monday, April 30, at 8 p.m. The shortened four-week season, which means extra work for the competitors, will feature double eliminations each week, with the season finale set to air Monday, May 21.