Page last updated at 09:15 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 10:15 UK

Gymnast wins US TV dancing show

Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas
Johnson was partnered to victory by professional dancer Mark Ballas

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson has been crowned the winner of US TV show Dancing With The Stars.

The 17-year-old saw off competition from French actor Gilles Marini and reality TV star Melissa Rycroft to win the programme's eighth series.

Johnson, who won a gold medal at the Beijing games, is the third Olympian to win the show.

Head of the judging panel Len Goodman said it had been "without a doubt, the best series ever".

"We've got the three best dancers here in the final," added Goodman, who also acts as head judge on the UK's Strictly Come Dancing.

Idol showdown

All of the finalists scored perfect marks from the judges. Rycroft, who appeared on TV show The Bachelor, was eliminated after the first round of the public vote, placing her third.

Johnson and Marini - who appeared in the Sex and the City movie - went on to perform a final dance, which also impressed the judges.

In the final phase of the phone vote, the two pairs were separated by just 1%, according to presenter Tom Bergeron.

Johnson's professional dancing partner Mark Ballas won the show for the second time, after victory with Olympic ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi at the climax of the sixth series last year.

It is a big week for reality TV fans in the US, with the latest winner of American Idol due to be announced on Wednesday.

The two finalists, Adam Lambert and Kris Allen, performed on Tuesday night in a bid to secure a lucrative recording contract.

California rocker Lambert was praised by judge Simon Cowell for his efforts.

The grand finale of Dancing With The Stars can be seen in the UK this Friday, 22 May, on digital channel Watch. American Idol is broadcast on ITV2 on Thursday and Friday.



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