Tonya Harding Already Feels Like A Winner Ahead Of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Finale

Tonya Harding is hours away from finding out if she will be crowned the champion of Dancing with the Stars: Athletes, but she already feels like she has won. The abbreviated season of the ABC celebrity ballroom competition ends its four-week run tonight, and the 47-year-old former Olympic figure skater will go head to head against NFL star Josh Norman and fellow Olympian Adam Rippon. Harding told Entertainment Tonight that making it to the Dancing With the Stars finale feels like a major victory, and she credits America for standing behind her. Harding told ET:

“I had no idea that I had it in me to get this far. It’s because of America. Standing up, standing for us, standing for me it’s truly an amazing journey and I just thank everybody who is voting for us.”

Harding, who is partnered with pro dancer Sasha Farber for the all-athletes season of Dancing with the Stars, knows voters carried her to the finals. According to ET, Tonya and Sasha actually scored eight points lower than last week’s eliminated figure skater Mirai Nagasu and her partner, Alan Bersten, and was in fourth place in terms of total over-all points in the competition. The DWTS voters were responsible for saving Tonya in the semi-final round ahead of Nagasu, softball player Jennie Finch-Daigle, and Olympic luger Chris Mazdzer.

Heartstrings officially pulled. Beautiful job, #teamaxellent! #DWTS

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Now, Tonya, who was previously banned for life by the U.S. Figure Skating Association, says she can hold her head up high after two decades of dealing with haters in the aftermath of the 1994 Nancy Kerrigan knee clubbing scandal.

“I can hold my head up high,” Harding said.

“I don’t [feel] like someone’s gonna come around the corner and say something to me that’s negative. I know there will always be those people, but that’s OK.”

Sasha Farber also thanked America for being in Tonya’s “corner.” Farber described the controversial athlete as “a new ray of sunshine” and “a bright energy.”

After it was announced that she advanced to the Dancing With the Stars finals last week, Harding told reporters it was proof that America loves her again.

“I think America has proven that they love me and they wanted to know what happened and now they know,” Harding said, according to Fox News. “[I’m] feeling like America has opened their arms to me and understands me better now and so, I’m just another person. I’ve been knocked down and now I’ve been picked back up and because of America voting for us, we made it to the finals.”

Tonya Harding beat out seven other world-class athletes to make it to the Dancing With the Stars: Athletes finals. In addition to the semi-finalists, the four-week mini-season also featured MLB player Johnny Damon, Notre Dame basketball player Arike Ogunbowale, snowboarder Jamie Anderson, and retired NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber will dance the Viennese Waltz during the show’s season finale.

The Dancing With the Stars: Athletes finale airs Monday, May 21 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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