Who is Will Bayley? Meet the Strictly Come Dancing 2019 contestant and Paralympic athlete

Will Bayley is number one in the world of table tennis – but will he also be a Strictly champion?

Will Bayley (Getty)

Our Strictly Come Dancing line-up for 2019 is fast taking shape, after Will Bayley was confirmed to be the 10th celebrity taking to the floor later this year.

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The Paralympian is already a pro with paddles, having won Gold at table-tennis in Rio 2016, but will he have the same luck as he takes on the judges as they flash their scores?

Here’s everything you need to know about Bayley….

What is Will Bayley best known for?

Bayley is a Paralympic table-tennis champion. The 31-year-old, who suffers from arthrogryposis (congenital joint contracture) decided to take up table-tennis as a child following a cancer diagnosis.

After joining a table tennis club in his hometown of Tunbridge Wells, Bayley went on to compete in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, where he was knocked out in the preliminary stages. However, he went on to win gold medals in the Czech and German opens in 2009, and golds in the Lignano and Brazil opens in 2010.

Bayley won a gold medal in the singles at the 2011 European Championships in Split, Croatia and took silver in the London 2012 Paralympics.

Key Facts

Age: 31

Twitter: @willbayleytt

Instagram: @willbayleytt

What’s Will Bayley best known for? A heavily decorated Paralympian and world number 1 table tennis player

He finally took Paralympic gold in Rio 2016 – but his celebration saw him earn a yellow card after he jumped on the table.

“I was on match point and obviously everything was really tense but it suddenly came into my head that I hadn’t decided what to do if I won,” Bayley told BBC Sport.
“It had been a difficult match, my emotions were all over the place, I was stressed and remembered losing at London 2012.

“Then, the moment I won, for some reason my first thought was ‘jump.'”

Unsurprisingly, for someone so highly decorated in their sport, Bayley was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to table tennis.

Has Will Bayley done any reality TV before?

Bayley turned to Fred Sirieux to find love, appearing on Celebrity First Dates in 2016.

“It was surreal, but I’d watched the programme before and knew what to expect, so it was a great experience,” he said.

“I just can’t bring myself to watch it back though; first dates are hard enough and I just think it would be so cringey to watch myself.”

However, Bayley parted with his date as “friends”, before meeting his current partner Fiona York at a reception – the pair now have a child together.

What has Will Bayley said about performing on Strictly Come Dancing?

Bayley, by his own admission, can’t dance.

“I have never, ever danced in my life,” he told Julia Hartley-Brewer on TalkRADIO. “Apart from in clubs where my friends have told me to stop dancing in the club because I’m awful, so it’s going to be tough.”

Despite this, Bayley is determined to work hard and do his partner proud.

“I’ll work really hard, but I need someone to be honest, I just want someone to tell me if I’m rubbish!” he joked.

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Strictly Come Dancing launches later this year on BBC 1