Former 'Strictly' star Will Bayley worries injury might rule him out of Tokyo Paralympics

Amy West
Contributor
Former 'Strictly Come Dancing' contestant Will Bayley fears his recent injury may prevent him from competing in the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020 (Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty)

Former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Will Bayley fears his recent injury may prevent him from competing in the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.

The professional table tennis player was forced to pull out of the BBC reality series after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during rehearsals.

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"I'm at the top of my career. I've played four major tournaments this season and I've won three gold medals. I'm the best player in the world at the moment,” he recently told The Sun, as he worried about the impact the damage might have going forward. "So this is just massively scary to have this injury at this moment. It's only just starting to sink in."

The 31-year-old - who was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that causes muscle shortening and affects mobility - went on to say that he was “so gutted” about having to quit Strictly and that the last four days have been very “traumatic” for him.

Bayley won his first gold medal back in 2016, when he beat Brazilian Israel Pereira Stroh at the Rio Summer Paralympics. (Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images)

Recalling the incident, he said: “I felt my knee pop and I was in agony. I'm not going to lie, the second I landed and felt it I thought 'Tokyo' but thought I'd get some physio, rest it for a day, and be back dancing next week.

“I can take pain, I've been in pain all my life, but I screamed in agony and the next day I couldn't do anything, so alarm bells started ringing.

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“It has hurt ever since. I went for a scan, and now the decision has been taken out of my hands. If I have to miss Tokyo it would be devastating.”

Bayley won his first gold medal back in 2016, when he beat Brazilian Israel Pereira Stroh at the Rio Summer Paralympics.

Bayley’s Strictly partner Janette Manrara took to Twitter to praise him for taking part in the competition and wish him a fast recovery.

“[Will] will always be my champion! He came on this show to share a very special message & every single week through his hard work & determination he did exactly that. In my eyes, that is truly winning!”