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Former contestants make their predictions for the all-athlete season of 'DWTS'

The brand new season of "Dancing with the Stars" premieres Monday on ABC (8 p.m. ET) with an all-athlete cast. As we've seen a number of sports stars win the Mirror Ball trophy over the years, including Laurie Hernandez, Shawn Johnson and Meryl Davis, it looks to be one of the fiercest seasons yet.

With figure skaters Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon, retired NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, retired baseball star Johnny Damon, Olympic luger Chris Mazdzer, retired softball icon Jennie Finch, Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, gold-medal winning snowboarder Jamie Anderson, Notre Dame hero Arike Ogunbowale, and, of course, former figure skater Tonya Harding all competing, it truly is anyone's contest to win. Las Vegas oddsmakers have Nagasu and Rippon as the favorites, but which contestants do those who have actually been there before think will win it all?

We asked a number of former athlete contestants on the show who they think will emerge victorious, and here's what they had to say.


Shawn Johnson, gymnastics

Winner, Season 8

"I think that Adam Rippon and [partner] Jenna Johnson will win the all-athlete season. It's a great partnership. Jenna is an incredible teacher and dancer. Their chemistry seems perfectly matched and they can win the hearts of the viewers."


Meryl Davis, ice dancing

Winner, Season 18

"I'm on the road [for the 'Stars on Ice' tour] with Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon and know they're both very hard at work. I predict it'll be one of them at the top."


Paige VanZant, MMA

Runner-up, Season 22

"I definitely think that this has the potential to be the best season ever of 'Dancing with the Stars.' These are athletes who are in touch with their bodies and know the way that they move. They will all know how to use their bodies as their vessels and pick up the athletic side of dancing. Not all celebrities on the show have the capability to do that. I can't wait to watch it as a fellow competitor, athlete and fan. I have no idea who is going to win this season but I know that I am going to try and be in the audience for a show."


Laurie Hernandez, gymnastics

Winner, Season 23

"I'm so looking forward to watching the all-athlete season of 'Dancing with the Stars!' You know I can't pick just one to win, but I might be a little biased toward my fellow Team USA Olympians. Everyone is absolutely going to bring their own flair and style to the floor and I can't wait to cheer them all on!"


Natalie Coughlin, swimming

10th place, Season 9

"Honestly, I would go with Rippon or Nagasu just because ice skating is so similar to dancing. I think with the whole athlete class it is a more leveled playing field because athletes are so trained and they push their bodies. I think that will be a really interesting twist this season."