Strictly star Will Bayley wins silver medal at Tokyo Paralympics

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Strictly star Will Bayley has claimed the silver medal at the Tokyo Paralympic games.

The 33-year-old, from Poole, narrowly missed out on the gold medal at this year's table tennis final, coming second to Yan Shuo of China.

“He played well today and deserved to win. You’ve got to give it to him,” he told The Guardian.

“I believe I’m the best player in the world so it’s a bit disappointing that I didn’t win it because I probably am on my day. He played well and I missed some crucial shots, it is what it is.”

Bayley shot to fame after taking home the gold in Rio 2016 and went onto take part in high profile programmes including Celebrity First Dates and Strictly Come Dancing in 2019.

However, he had to leave the BBC dancing show early after sustaining a leg injury when he landed awkwardly after jumping from a platform. He was the second act to pull from the show that year following Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing.

Had the coronavirus not postponed the games until this year, he would not have been able to compete due to his injury, which has taken months of preparation and time away from his partner and two daughters at a training camp in Sheffield to overcome.

“I’ve been away for such a long time,” he said. “Since I said I was going to try and get a medal in Tokyo, I haven’t been home. I’ve only seen my family one day every other week. I’ve missed out on birthdays, walking, talking.

"But at the end of the day they’ll be proud of me and they’ll be saying, you missed a lot of time away but look at what you achieved. I’m looking forward to spending some time with them after Tokyo. That will be really cool.”

Bayley's rehabilitation was especially difficult as he has arthrogryposis, a condition which affects the mobility of the joints and limits the ability to put on muscle mass, in all four limbs.

“Because it’s harder to build muscle you don’t get that support of the knee joint,” Bayley added, “which is crucial for table tennis when you’re always doing that sort of thing.”

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He now has his eyes set on Paris 2024.

“I want to stay active,” he said. “When I tore my ACL I put on three stone. That can’t happen again or I’m not going to make it back probably.

"After the last Paralympics I took three or four months off and got depressed. So this time as soon as I get back I will be playing.”

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