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Will Bayley expecting to compete in Tokyo despite 'Strictly Come Dancing' injury

The 31-year-old is looking to defend his Paralympic title in Japan next summer.

Will Bayley is on target to defend his Paralympic table tennis title in Tokyo despite injury fears after dropping out of Strictly Come Dancing.

Bayley was forced to pull out of the celebrity BBC show in week seven after injuring his knee during rehearsals.

The 31-year-old – who danced on the table after claiming gold in the Class 7 category in Rio in 2016 – initially feared the incident could threaten his hopes of defending his title.

Will Bayley
Will Bayley was forced to pull out of Strictly due to injury (Guy Levy/BBC)

But British Para Table Tennis performance director Gorazd Vecko believes Bayley is not only on track for Japan – but that his dancing stint could make him more competitive than ever.

Vecko told the PA news agency: "Will's knee injury will continue to be assessed by the medical team at the EIS in Sheffield over the next few weeks.

"But they are confident that he will be fully fit to defend his Paralympic title in Tokyo next summer.

"Will has enjoyed taking on a new challenge and feels that learning to dance has improved his balance and movement, both of which will help him when he is playing table tennis."

Great Britain team-mate and two-time Paralympic bronze medallist Aaron McKibbin paid tribute to the impact Bayley's Strictly appearance has had on their sport.

McKibbin told the PA news agency: "All of a sudden everybody seems to know what para table tennis is. What Will's done has been incredible and it can only continue to help raise the profile."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States14161141
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia912930
Great BritainGreat Britain58821
Today's Olympic highlights header

Friday's key events

· The athletics schedule begins, with 100m sprinter Dina Asher-Smith among the names in action on the opening day. The men's 10,000m final concludes the action, with Team GB's Sam Atkin and Marc Scott taking part in the absence of 2012 and 2016 champion Sir Mo Farah (1am-2.30pm)

· Victoria Thornley is Team GB's representative in the women's single sculls final (1.33am)
· Great Britain will be going for gold in the men's eight final (2.25am)

· Team GB duo Molly Renshaw and Abbie Wood take part in the women's 200m breaststroke final, but new Olympic record-holder Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa is the hot favourite (2.41am)
· Luke Greenbank has very realistic ambitions of picking up a medal in the men's 200m backstroke final (2.50am)
· There is also British representation in the women's 100m freestyle final, although any medal for Anna Hopkin would be a surprise (2.59am)
· With one gold and one silver already under his belt at these Games, Duncan Scott goes again in the men's 200m individual medley final (3.16am)

· Bryony Page will be looking to repeat her 2016 heroics in the women's event (5am-7.30pm)

· Bradley Forbes-Cryans will be looking to emulate Rio gold medallist Joe Clarke in the men's kayak event (6am-9am)

· The women's tournament enters the quarter-finals, with Great Britain facing Australia at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium (10am)

> Today's schedule in full
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