Will Bayley MBE is the number 1 Paralympic Table Tennis player in the world and was part of the BBC's 2019 Strictly Come Dancing line up.
The Team GB professional took home a gold medal at the last Olympics in Rio and a Silver Medal at London 2012 and is currently training for Tokyo 2020. Alongside his Table Tennis achievements, Will impressed the nation on the Strictly Come Dancing dance floor, partnered with professional Janette Manrara. Their routines ranged from the Quickstep through to the Foxtrot, but it was their moving Contemporary dance routine that has now gone down in Strictly history, leaving the judges and audience in tears. Sadly this became his final dance in the competition after sustaining a knee injury that ended his Strictly journey. But the strength and determination he showed on the dance floor will live on and continue to inspire others...read more
Will’s charismatic persona and infectious enthusiasm has encouraged lots of young people to get involved in Table Tennis - with the number of participants in Championship Table Tennis tripling since his London 2012 win, and in January 2017 Will was awarded an MBE for services for Table Tennis.
Arthrogryposis [AR-THROW-GRY-PO-SIS] is a big word for a small baby but it’s one that Will Bayley would become familiar with from a very early age. Even before he was born, Will’s parents already knew their baby would be born with Arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that was to affect all four of his limbs. Will’s feet were splinted from birth and at three months old Will underwent his first major operation, which was to see him in plaster for several months. Many more reconstruction operations were to follow at Great Ormond Street Hospital. By the age of three, and with the aid of magic Pedro boots and a frame, Will was, at last, able to walk. During these early years Will was always happy, but also full of courage and determination, as he faced numerous operations on his limbs.
At the age of seven, Will became unwell and was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and began a six-month course of chemotherapy at the now very familiar Great Ormond Street Hospital. Treatments for lymphoma were under development at that time, and Will was one of just ten children enrolled onto a clinical trial for the now commonly used chemotherapy agent, vincristine.
Unable to play any contact sport due to his ‘Hickman line’, which was used to administer his chemotherapy, Will’s grandmother bought him a table tennis table. Quickly Will discovered he was quite good at table tennis and it was the one sport at which he could beat his older brother. At the age of 11, Will joined Byng Hall Table Tennis Club in Tunbridge Wells where he continued to improve through his dedication to training and gaining match practice by entering competitions each week. By the age of 16 Will was representing Kent men’s team of able-bodied players, in the Kent league, as his table tennis continued to go from strength to strength.
Now in preparation for Tokyo 2020, Will has a challenging training regime which sees him travel all over the world for competitions. This year he has had his best ever season winning tournaments in Italy, Slovenia and Japan and he can’t wait to defend his gold medal in Tokyo.
Will actively supports a number of sporting and community projects including Kent Sports Trust Foundation, Pepenbury and Disability Sports Coaching and his motivational talks for schools and industry are always in demand.