Splash: Penny Mordaunt belly flops as she tries to dive in 2014
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Penny Mordaunt flopped in the Tory leadership debate on Sunday, according to members of the public. The former Defence Secretary finished third, according to a snap Opinium poll of 1,001 people. Only 17 percent thought Ms Mordaunt won, compared to 24 percent who backed Rishi Sunak, and Tom Tugendhat, who wooed 19 percent of those polled. Earlier last week, Ms Mordaunt was being talked about as a future Prime Minister to replace Boris Johnson after he resigned the week before.
However, the MP for Portsmouth North’s hopes of becoming the next Tory leader appear to have been dented by the other runners and riders in the race.
The number of candidates looking to succeed Mr Johnson will tonight be whittled down from four to five as the third ballot of MPs takes place.
As well as Ms Mordaunt’s flop in the debate, she also once belly flopped into a swimming pool live on television in 2014.
The Tory leadership hopeful was taking part in ITV’s short-lived celebrity diving show, ‘Splash!’.
The programme, which only ran for two series before it was axed, was fronted by Olympic diver Tom Daley.
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Unearthed footage of the programme shows Ms Mordaunt belly-flopping into the pool during heat three of series two.
Video shows Ms Mordaunt jumping backwards off the 7.5 metre diving platform before smashing into the water in an almost horizontal position.
The Tory MP dived with too much force, according to the judges, causing her to over-rotate in the air.
Despite generous scores from the panel, Ms Mordaunt was eliminated from the competition in week three.
The resurfaced clip of her dive was discussed last week by Tory MP Bob Stewart, who backs her bid to lead the party.
Speaking to Times Radio, the former British Army officer said: “I think she’s an incredibly brave woman.
“And one of the things that really appeals to me is her bravery… Do you remember the Splash series where she dived?
“She did a belly flop. And afterwards she was in absolute agony. I saw her legs, they were really blue.
“And then she went in and did it again, exactly the same thing.
“And I thought, my God, I’d never have had the courage to do that again. So, when I say courage, that’s what I mean.”
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Before going on the show, Ms Mordaunt admitted that she was “very, very nervous”, saying she was “afraid of heights, and it’s a really frightening thing to do”.
However, not everybody was a fan of the Tory MP’s appearance on ‘Splash!’, alongside the likes of celebrities such as Gemma Collins, Jenny Eclair and Michaela Strachan.
Ms Mordaunt defended her decision to go on the programme after critics said she should be focusing more on serving her constituents.
The politician donated her £10,000 fee from the show to military charities and a local swimming pool in Portsmouth.
Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2014, she said: “I’m doing it for charity, and it’s an amazingly challenging personal experience.”
She also told Channel 5 News that she was not publicity-hungry and would not have gone on ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ as her fellow Tory politician Nadine Dorries did in 2012.
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