By Amanda Taylor
Updated March 27, 2013 at 04:17 AM EDT
Credit: ABC

Tonight’s contestant wasn’t technically eliminated, but she chose to bow out gracefully due to health issues. Sadly, this week we had to say goodbye to Dorothy and Tristan on the first elimination show of Dancing With The Stars season 16.

Dorothy Hamill, former Olympian and very game DWTS contestant, has been suffering from nerve damage in her right leg and back. She bravely spoke to EW from the comfort of a folding chair with a bag of ice pressed to her injured back about her decision to leave the show.

“It’s not fair to the show. It’s not fair to the other dancers,” Hamill said. She had learned the choreography for the jive she performed last night with partner Tristan MacManus in only two days, putting it off as long as she could and hoping her body would recover before the performance Monday night. Then tonight, just before one of the jeopardized couples could be eliminated, she announced her exit from the show.

“Today was amazing but I think yesterday was a big decision, to actually take on the show — and it was the wrong thing to do, in my opinion. But she did it and that should say more about her character more so than today,” MacManus said of his dancing partner.

Tristan found out only this morning that his partner had decided to leave the show.

“She sent me a message that said she needed to talk to me so I had a feeling that someone made a decision that I wanted her to make weeks ago — so I kind of prepared myself for it. I was relieved. Not in a negative way because I think it was the right decision. It was the last resort but it was the right decision. It was a decision that I wanted her to make before, but it wasn’t my place to make.”

Hamill admitted there were some steps she wished she could’ve taken on her DWTS journey.

“I loved when Kristi did the jive and I thought I’d never be able to do that — and clearly I wasn’t able to do that, so that would’ve been fun. Tango…”

Tristan quickly offered to teach her the tango as soon as she’s feeling better. But Dorothy promised she would be in the audience as early as next week.

“Whether I’ll be dancing or not, I will be here,” she said with a big smile.

And would Dorothy dance in a future season, health permitting?

“Absolutely, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

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