Will Bayley MBE

Date and place of birth: 17/01/1988, Poole
Home town: Tunbridge Wells
Lives: Brighton
TT Class: 7
Current world ranking: 1
International debut: 2006, Las Vegas
Major titles: Paralympic champion 2016; World champion 2014/2022; European champion 2011/2023

 

Will's Story

Born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that affected all four of his limbs, Will underwent numerous operations at Great Ormond Street Hospital from the age of three months old. He returned to Great Ormond Street for chemotherapy when he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of seven and it was while recovering from cancer that his grandmother bought him a table tennis table. The rest, as they say, is history.

Having joined Byng Hall Table Tennis Club in Tunbridge Wells he went on to represent Kent men’s abled bodied team and after moving to Bristol to continue his studies Will trained at the Bristol Table Tennis Academy with former international player Kevin Satchell. He joined the GB Para table tennis team in 2006 and after representing ParalympicsGB in Beijing in 2008 he returned to China on his own for several months to train with the best in the world.

Will won his first major title at the European Championships in 2011 and was voted Players Player of the Year. At the start of 2012 he was confirmed as World number one in men’s class 7 and featured in a series of inspirational advertisements for Channel 4’s coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He went on to reach the final in men’s class 7, losing an emotional match to defending champion Jochen Wollmert from Germany.

Will followed that by becoming World champion in 2014 and Paralympic champion in Rio 2016. In 2017 he had to settle for bronze at the European championships and in defence of his World title in 2018 he came up against an inspired Jordi Morales in the quarterfinals and the Spaniard took the match 3-2 before going on to take the gold medal. Will enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2019, winning singles gold in Italy, Slovenia and Japan and regained the world number one ranking in men’s class 7 but was bitterly disappointed to lose in the quarterfinals of the European Championships.

He recovered from a serious knee injury to compete in Tokyo in 2021 and played superbly to take silver in the men’s class 7 singles, losing to the Chinese World number one Yan Shuo, and silver in the men’s class 6-7 team event.

“Maybe the lack of massive matches in recent years was a factor,” he said. “I think I need to be performing well at majors before a Paralympics - just to play in those major finals because it’s been a while since I’ve been in that position. I need to be more consistent. It is amazing to get to three Paralympic finals but I still believe I can get to four and that just gives me more hunger to try and get the gold medal in France.”

In 2022 he was unbeaten in singles as he regained both the World number one ranking and the World title, taking gold in the men's class 7 singles in Spain, and continued his unbeaten run in 2023 taking gold in Slovenia and the USA before winning his second European title in front of a home crowd in Sheffield.

As the reigning World and European champion Will now goes to Paris in 2024 with hopes of adding a second Paralympic crown.

“It has always been a dream of mine to hold all three titles at the same time,” he said. “I’ve never done it and I said before the Worlds that I’m going to win all three before I finish, and I’m so determined I can do that. I’m not putting pressure on myself - I genuinely believe I can, and I’ll go for it.”

In December 2014 Will received recognition for his achievement in becoming world champion when he won the Disability Sport award at the inaugural Daily Mirror and Sport England Pride of Sport Awards and in December 2016 he was awarded the Bill McGowran Trophy for ‘outstanding achievement in Paralympic sport by a male athlete’ by the Sports Journalists Association and also received an MBE in the New Year Honours List.

Will attended the Brit School for Performing Arts in Croydon and appeared in a DVD ‘We’ve Got The Toaster’. In 2019 he won the hearts of the nation as a contestant on BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing and in 2022 he appeared in the BBC TV series The Pilgrimage. Will has two daughters with his partner Fiona York.

2023 Results:

European Championships, Sheffield, UK – gold, men’s singles (class 7); L16, men’s doubles (class 18); L16, mixed doubles (class 14)

US Open – gold, men’s singles (class 7); gold, men’s doubles (class 14)

Slovenia Open – gold, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s doubles (class 14)

2022 Results:

World Championships, Spain – gold, men’s singles (class 7)

Finland Open – gold, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s doubles (class 14); bronze, mixed doubles (class 17)

Czech Open – gold, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s doubles (class MD14)

Slovenia Open – gold, men’s singles (class 7); QF, men’s doubles (class MD14); QF, mixed doubles (class XD14)

2021 Results:

Paralympic Games, Tokyo – silver, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 6-7)

2019 Results:

European Championships, Sweden – QF, men’s singles (class 7)

Japan Open – gold, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 7)

Slovenia Open - gold, men's singles (class 7); bronze, men's teams (class 7)

Lignano Master Open, Italy – gold, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 8)

2018 Results:

World Championships, Slovenia – QF, men’s singles (class 7)

Slovenian Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 7); QF, men’s teams (class 8)

Lignano Master Open, Italy – silver, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 7)

2017 Results:

European Championships, Lasko, Slovenia – bronze, men’s singles (class 7)

Bayreuth Open, Germany – gold, men’s singles (class 7): bronze, men’s teams (class 8)

Slovenia Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 8)

2016 Results:

Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro - gold, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 6-8)

Slovakia Open - bronze, men's singles (class 7)

Slovenia Open - gold, men’s singles (class 7)

Lignano Master Open, Italy - QF men’s singles (class 7); group stages, men’s teams (class 8)

2015 Results:

Belgian Open - silver, men’s teams (class 9)

European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - silver, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 7)

Bayreuth Open, Germany - silver, men’s teams (class 7); last 16, men’s singles (class 7)

Slovenia Open - silver, men’s singles (class 7); gold, men’s teams (class 7)

2014 Results:

World Championships, Beijing, China - gold, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 6-7)

Slovakia Open - silver, men’s teams (class 7); QF men’s singles (class 7)

Slovenia Open - gold, men’s singles (class 7); gold men’s teams (class 7)

Lignano Master Open, Italy - gold, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 6-7)

Career Highlights:

2023:    European Championships, Sheffield, UK – gold, men’s singles (class 7)

2022:   World Championships, Spain – gold, men’s singles (class 7)

2021:    Paralympic Games, Tokyo – silver, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 6-7)

2017:    European Championships, Lasko, Slovenia – bronze, men’s singles (class 7)

2016:    Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro - gold, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 6-8)

2015:    European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - silver, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 7)

2014:    World Championships, Beijing, China - gold, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 6-7)

2013:    European Championships, Lignano, Italy - silver, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 7)

2012:    Paralympic Games, London - silver, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 6-8)

2011:    European Championships, Split, Croatia - gold, men’s singles (class 7), silver, men’s teams (class 7)