Dorothy Hamill off Dancing with the Stars due to back injury

Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill and her partner Tristan MacManus talk with hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke-Charvet after withdrawing from the competition on the first results show for 'Dancing With The Stars' season 16 on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. (Adam Taylor)

March 27, 2013 2:44:38 PM PDT
Olympic great Dorothy Hamill has gracefully bowed out of Dancing with the Stars to focus on an injury she says could be irreparable.

Hamill had been dealing with weakness and numbness in her ankle due to a cyst on her back and it became too difficult -- and dangerous -- to dance.

"Surgery is sort of the last option, and I will see my spine surgeon on Friday and we'll access it from there," said Hamill. "It's something that if I don't take care of, I'll have permanent foot, leg, nerve damage."

Hamill started strong. In week one, she and partner Tristan MacManus were near the top of the judges' leaderboard. But this week, with her health affecting rehearsal time, they fell to the bottom.

"It just breaks my heart to not be around, but it's not fair to everyone," said Hamill. "So getting better is...something that just is going to take some time, and I guess that's the priority."

Hamill says her spine surgeon told her she could be permanently damaged if she continued. That saved Lindsay Arnold and Lisa Vanderpump for another week. They were in the bottom two.

The gold medalist won't win the competition, but she sure won a lot of respect.

"Since the day we were announced on Good Morning America, we bonded for some reason," said Andy Dick. "But she's very motherly and she right away said how proud she was of me."

"I was really particularly proud of her for just bowing out, you know, in a way that let somebody else go on," said D.L. Hughley.

It'll be prom night on "Dancing with the Stars" on Monday, April 1, at 7 p.m. on ABC7.