Wednesday 21 August 2019

Paralympian Will Bayley hopes to inspire others with Strictly stint

The sports star said he wants to ‘prove to people that I can do this’ after being unveiled as the 10th contestant.

Paralympian Will Bayley wants to inspire others with Strictly Come Dancing stint (Adam Davy/PA)
Paralympian Will Bayley wants to inspire others with Strictly Come Dancing stint (Adam Davy/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Paralympian Will Bayley has said he hopes to inspire others living with a disability during his time on the Strictly Come Dancing dance floor.

Bayley, the 10th contestant confirmed for this year’s line-up, is a world table tennis champion who is currently ranked the world number one.

The Tunbridge Wells-born sports star, 31, has suffered from arthrogryposis since birth, a rare congenital joint condition affecting all four of his limbs.

He underwent numerous operations at Great Ormond Street Hospital from the age of three months old before being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the age of seven.

Bayley started playing table tennis after he was given a table following two years of chemotherapy treatment.

Having won silver at the London Paralympics in 2012, gold at the Rio Paralympics in 2016 and, more recently, a gold at the Japan Open 2019, Bayley has now set his sights on the challenge of Strictly’s dance floor.

“I’m so proud to be on the show, it’s my family’s favourite show,” he said in a statement after being confirmed for Strictly on TalkRadio.

“I have no dance experience at all, but I hope I can do well. I want to inspire people with a disability – that would mean a lot to me.”

He added: “I want to prove to people I can do this.”

In January 2017, Bayley was awarded an MBE for his services to table tennis, and next year he hopes to defend his Paralympic title in Tokyo.

Bayley follows fellow Paralympic athletes Jonnie Peacock and Lauren Steadman in taking part in Strictly.

Sprinter Peacock, a below the knee amputee, came in eighth place in 2017.

Triathlete Steadman, who was born missing her lower right arm, took part in last year’s series and came in fifth place.

PA Media

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