Janette Manrara has paid tribute to her “champion” dance partner Will Bayley after he was forced to quit Strictly Come Dancing following a knee injury.

The 35-year-old star praised the Paralympic table tennis player for all his “hard work and determination” over recent weeks.

Bayley was devastated to have missed last Saturday’s Halloween special after suffering the injury on the morning of the live show and the BBC confirmed his exit from the show on Wednesday

Sharing a heartwarming picture of herself and Bayley, Manrara wrote: “I had to post this photo again because it represents everything that I feel right now. @willbayleytt will always be my champion!

“He came on this show to share a very special message & every single week through his hard work & determination he did exactly that. In my eyes, that is truly winning!

“You inspired so many & most of all me! Thank you for being so incredible every week & giving your absolute EVERYTHING! 

“I’m sending all the positive energy your way now for a speedy recovery. And a HUGE thank you to everyone that has supported us & sent such lovely messages!

“I love you Will, & forever and always….. #WeGotThisChamp ❤”.

Bayley responded to the post simply writing: “My Hero.” 

Janette Manrara and Will Bayley will return to the show next week (BBC/Guy Levy)

Their Strictly co-stars also shared messages of love and comfort with Amy Dowden writing: “Sending so much love to you both xxxx.”

Dianne Buswell posted: “Love you both will speedy recovery you got this champ.” [sic]

Bayley announced his departure on the Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two.

Speaking to presenter Zoe Ball about his exit, Bayley broke down in tears as he sat in the interview with a leg brace while praising Manrara for helping him learn how to dance. 

He said: “I’m just really gutted we had such a good run and I was loving it, it’s all been a bit… I don’t know everything has happened so fast it was just shocking as well.”

On his leg injury, he explained: “It’s getting there it’s just not ready to dance on at all, if I could I really would I’d give it everything I really would but it’s just not ready for it.”

Manrara also struggled to contain her emotions. 

“Obviously I’m super gutted I could see that Will was getting better and better, specifically this week with the jive,” she said. 

“He learned it so fast I thought oh my god we’re building up momentum, all I have in the heart at the moment is so many incredible awesome moments I shared with Will, chatting about life, I feel like I’ve made a friend for life with him. We’ve been united forever now.’”

Meanwhile, fellow celebrity participant Alex Scott has cast doubt on the future of her partner Neil Jones after he was forced to pull out at the eleventh hour.

The former Arsenal player performed her Ghostbusters-inspired street dance with stand-in Kevin Clifton, after Neil injured himself just hours before the show.

Clifton had less than 45 minutes to learn the routine before taking to the dance floor.

Despite the setback, Scott and her temporary partner earned 34 points, one of her highest scores yet.

On Tuesday Jones told his fans on Twitter that he will be giving this week’s dance a go on Saturday.

Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday at 7pm. 



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