'Strictly' could make Will Bayley more likely to win Gold at Tokyo 2020, despite injury

Katie Archer

When Will Bayley crashed out of Strictly with a knee injury it sparked fears that his dreams of a Gold medal at Tokyo 2020 could be in tatters - but his team reckon the experience could make him more likely to take home a win.

Paralympic table tennis champ Bayley was a popular contestant on the BBC dance show with partner Janette Manrara, but was forced to drop out after landing awkwardly on his leg during training, leaving him unable to dance.

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However, he has vowed to make it to the winner’s podium at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, and the British team’s table tennis boss says he is on track to achieve his aim and is more competitive than ever.

British Para Table Tennis performance director Gorazd Vecko told PA news agency: “Will’s knee injury will continue to be assessed by the medical team at the EIS in Sheffield over the next few weeks.

“But they are confident that he will be fully fit to defend his Paralympic title in Tokyo next summer.

“Will has enjoyed taking on a new challenge and feels that learning to dance has improved his balance and movement, both of which will help him when he is playing table tennis.”

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Bayley was in the Strictly audience at the weekend to support his co-stars, where he said he planned to be fit for Tokyo.

He also appeared on ITV’s Loose Women on Monday where he said: “I achieved everything I wanted coming onto the show.

“When I was growing up I was always looking for someone with my disability to sort of look up to, just someone to see doing things. With my condition it was all quite clinical stuff… I wanted to see someone dancing or someone playing sport.

“I’ve had so many lovely emails, hopefully I’ve made some kind of difference.”

He added of the forthcoming Paralympics: “I’m really confident I’ll be there and try and get another Gold medal, it’ll be great.”