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Paralympic champion Will Bayley focusing on positives of delayed games

The extra year has given Will Bayley time to recover from a serious knee injury.

Paralympic table tennis champion Will Bayley believes the delay to the Tokyo 2020 Games has given him a fighting chance of retaining his title.

The Rio gold medallist required a knee reconstruction last year after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament while in rehearsals for the TV show Strictly Come Dancing in October 2019.

That left him struggling to regain fitness in time for the Paralympics for when they were originally scheduled last summer.

Bayley (right) was injured whilst appearing in Strictly Come Dancing
Bayley (right) was injured whilst appearing in Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC)

The postponing of the Games for 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic has therefore worked to his benefit as he bids for a second triumph in the class seven category.

"It would have been hard to be fully fit last year – now I have a more realistic chance," the 33-year-old, who also won silver at London 2012, told

"Last year I was trying to be positive but it would have been hard to defend my title very well. I've been very fortunate with the delay to the Paralympic Games.

"Defending my title is obviously the key ambition. I feel like I'm in good enough shape again to win the competition, but I'll be up against the best in the world and, on the day, anything can happen. I'm aiming to retain the Paralympic title and I'll be giving it everything in Tokyo."

Bayley followed up silver at London 2012 with gold at Rio 2016
Bayley followed up silver at London 2012 with gold at Rio 2016 (Adam Davy/PA)

Bayley was born with arthrogryposis, a congenital joint contracture in two or more areas of the body, and is used to living with pain.

"Living with arthrogryposis, you are always more sore from hard training sessions," said Bayley, an ambassador of the B-Cure Laser, a low-level laser therapy device that has aided his training and recovery.

"It's like a tightening of the joints which means I can't open my hands fully, and it's the same with my feet. You get exaggerated pain and it causes a lack of mobility.

"You have to approach everything with a positive attitude. Look at the positive things in your life and think about what you can do, rather than what you cannot. You have to make the best of the situation.

"In great moments of pain, it's important to try to relax as much as possible and try to breathe through the pain."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States22251764
Olympics flagRussian Olympic Committee12211750
Great BritainGreat Britain11121235
Today's Olympic highlights header

Tuesday's key events

· Team GB duo Jack Laugher - silver medallist in Rio - and James Heatly take part in the men's 3m springboard semi-final (2am), and will hope to qualify for the final later in the day (7am)

· Two Britons are involved in the women's long jump final, but Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers have their work cut out to get a spot on the podium (2.50am)
· Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who broke the world record just last month, goes for gold in the men's 400m hurdles final. USA's Rai Benjamin is expected to be his main challenger (4.20am)
· Great Britain have three representatives in the final of the women's 800m, with Jemma Reekie having perhaps the best chance of a medal (1.25pm)
· A mouth-watering women's 200m final sees Elaine Thompson-Herah go for the prestigious sprint double after claiming the 100m crown. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Namibia's Christine Mboma and USA's Gabrielle Thomas are expected to be her main competitors (1.50pm)

· The rescheduled women's skiff 49er FX (4.33am) and men's skiff 49er (5.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races
· Defending champion Giles Scott bids for a second successive gold in the Finn class medal race (6.33am)
· There is another medal chance for Team GB in the mixed Nacra 17 medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Joe Fraser takes part in the parallel bars final, kicking off the final day of artistic gymnastics (9am)
· USA superstar Simone Biles, who has been forced to pull out of all of her finals so far, is on the starting list for the beam final as she bids for a fifth Olympic gold (9.50am)

· The men's semi-finals take place, with Mexico taking on Brazil first up (9am)
· The winner of that first semi-final will face either hosts Japan or Spain (2pm)

· Laura Kenny will look to win a third straight Olympic team pursuit gold medal. Team GB take on United States in their heat (7.44am), with the gold medal race later that day (9.26am)
· Laura's husband and fellow Olympic legend Jason Kenny will also look to continue his huge success in the men's team sprint - an event he has won gold in at every Games since 2008. Team GB will first need to get through the men's qualifying (7.58am), with the gold medal race ending the session (9.44am)

· Pat McCormack will be looking to achieve his dream of Olympic gold when he faces Cuba's Roniel Iglesias (11.05am)

> Today's schedule in full
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