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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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Liam Pitchford pictured in 2018
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