Gareth Thomas may have missed out on the final of Dancing On Ice due to dreadful motion sickness but it hasn’t put him off returning to the ice – just don’t ask him to fly from a trapeze or hang upside down.
In fact, just give the former winger a rugby ball, a pair of ice skates and the challenge of a friendly rivalry routine with England’s Kyran Bracken, and he’s far more comfortable.
Gareth, from Bridgend, had to drop out of the semi-final of the popular reality TV show after becoming so ill with vertigo that he needed hospital treatment.
He admits he was disappointed not to see the challenge through to the end but he’s fully recovered now and loving being back on the ice as part of the Celebrities On Ice tour, which comes to Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena this weekend.
He stars alongside the programme’s eventual winner and Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle as well as actor Matt Lapinskas, and former Welsh X Factor star Chico.
Gareth, 38, says: “I’m fully recovered and it’s great to be back. I’m absolutely fine now. I know that it’s never going to happen again because I’m not going to try to perform any stunts like that ever again. It was never something I was confident in doing at all.
“I was sorry that it had to end the way it did and I really tried hard throughout the whole process to work as hard as I could on the ice but the sickness was just awful. As soon as I started learning the flying routine I just got this awful motion sickness and I was dizzy and vomiting with vertigo. There’s no way I could have done the routine. It was really uncomfortable and I felt so ill.
“It was a shame to go out like that but it’s great to be back on the ice. I’m skating this time round with Jenna Smith as Robyn, who I was with on the show, had other commitments but she’s now one of my closest friends and we speak every day. Jenna is great and we’ve been working hard to get the routines right.”
Gareth, affectionately known to his fans as Alfie, will also treat the audience to a Wales v England-inspired rugby routine with former English scrum-half Kyran, who was champion of the 2007 show.
“It’s always good to be reunited with the rugby ball and Kyran and I have a bit of Wales v England banter which should go down well.
“We basically compete against each other, egging each other on and it’s a good laugh. We are both really competitive and it’s good to have a go against him on the ice.
“We didn’t get weeks and weeks to rehearse so I’ve been concentrating on getting my routines right and I’ve got to say, it’s great to be on the ice again.”
And Gareth admits he doesn’t think he’ll ever stop skating now he has the bug.
“I’ve been to Planet Ice in Cardiff a few times since going on the show and it’s just because I really, really enjoy being on the ice.
“It’s a lot of hard work but I’ve enjoyed having that old familiar sporting buzz that I’ve missed since I retired from rugby union and rugby league. I like to put in 100% whatever I’m doing and this is no different.”
After the Cardiff leg of the tour, which is hosted by Christopher Biggins, Gareth will travel to Glasgow, Carlisle, Manchester, Newcastle, Scarborough, Northampton and Bournemouth before taking a break and working on new projects, including a new version of his autobiography.
“Afterwards I’ll probably make a start on an updated book, which will take in my rugby league stuff until now. I’ve got lots of stuff going on. I like being busy.”
Celebrities on Ice is at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
from tonight until Sunday. For tickets, call the box office on 029 2022 4488