Sheffield Paralympic star Will Bayley announced for new series of Strictly Come Dancing
Sheffield-based Paralympic gold medallist Will Bayley has been confirmed as one of the contestants for the forthcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing.
The 31-year-old, who won table tennis gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, will join TV presenter Anneka Rice, footballer David James and Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley who are among the celebrities competing for the famed glitterball trophy when the new series gets under way on BBC1 later this year.
In a statement he said: "I’m so proud to be on the show, it’s my family’s favourite show.
“I have no dance experience at all, but I hope I can do well. I want to inspire people with a disability - that would mean a lot to me. I want to prove to people I can do this.”
Since birth, Bayley has suffered from arthrogryposis, a rare condition which affects all of his four limbs.
But that has not stopped pursuing his sporting dreams and the world number one in Paralympic Table Tennis is currently in training to defend his title at the 2020 games in Tokyo.
He began playing table tennis as a child when he was recovering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer which saw him undertake six months of chemotherapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
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His grandmother bought him his first tennis table and at age 12 he joined the Byng Hall Table Tennis Club in Tunbridge Wells and went on to represent Kent’s able-bodied men’s team.
Since age 17, he has trained at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield and is based in the city for much of the year.
In January 2017, he was awarded an MBE for services to table tennis.
The full line-up of Strictly contestants is actress Emma Barton, footballer David James, comedian Chris Ramsey, Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley, YouTuber Saffron Barker, sports presenter Mike Bushell, CBBC presenter Karim Zeroual, Viscountess Emma Weymouth, American TV personality Michelle Visage, Made in Chelsea star Jamie Laing, footballer Alex Scott, Radio 1 DJ Dev Griffin, chef Emma Thynn, Olympic rower James Cracknell and TV presenter Anneka Rice.
The 17th series starts with a red carpet launch on Monday, August 26. The series premiere will follow shortly after, but a date is yet to be confirmed.
The main show will air live on Saturday evenings with the results the following day on Sundays.