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Will Bayley MBE

Swapping his bat for the ballroom

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Table tennis champion

Meet Will Bayley

"I decided to do Strictly to inspire people... and to have a great time!"

“I’m in a single sport - you win and lose on your own, but on Strictly you have a team getting behind you."

Poole-born Paralympian Will Bayley has checked off so many incredible life achievements, from a gold medal to an MBE, and now he’s preparing to add the Strictly Glitterball trophy to his list!

The 31-year-old is no stranger to sporting success having swiped a silver medal at the London 2012 Paralympics, a gold medal at Rio 2016, and a Class 7 Gold at the 2014 Table Tennis World Championships in China – not to mention an MBE in 2017 for services to table tennis.

Will was drawn to the sport at an early age, realising his passion following a string of medical issues. Born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that affects all four of his limbs, he underwent a series of reconstructive surgeries before the age of three.

Then aged seven, Will was diagnosed with cancer of the lymphatic system, receiving chemotherapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital. As his treatment prevented him from playing any contact sport, Will’s grandmother bought him a table tennis table - and the rest, as they say, is history!

Will was even a budding actor in his teenage years, but he decided to leave his drama days behind to live out his sporting dreams. However, he’s ready to rediscover his theatrical side as he tackles Strictly 2019.

“I’m really most looking forward to being in a team with my dance partner and meeting new people,” he said. “I’m in a single sport - you win and lose on your own, but on Strictly you have a team getting behind you. I think that’s brilliant.”

We’re sure your partner is ready to go for gold with you too, Will!