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Will Bayley: Strictly star to miss 2020 Paralympics after horrific knee injury

Will Bayley, 31, might have to nip competing in the bud for the next year or so as doctors warn he could miss the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo following his accident that forced him to drop out of Strictly Come Dancing.

The table tennis medallist suffered a horrific knee injury last week, which saw him unable to compete in the BBC show with pro dance partner, Janette Manrara.

But the athlete may have some more devastating news to deal with as his knee might not be fit to compete in next year’s Paralympics.

Speaking to The Sun, he said: “If I have to miss Tokyo it will be devastating.”

“I knew I had felt my knee pop and I was in agony. I’m not going to lie, the second I landed and felt it I thought ‘Tokyo’ but thought I’d get some physio, rest it for a day, and be back dancing next week.

“I can take pain, I’ve been in pain all my life, but I screamed in agony and the next day I couldn’t do anything, so alarm bells started ringing,” he explained.

“It has hurt ever since. I went for a scan, and now the decision has been taken out of my hands,” he said.

Despite suffering with arthrogryposis, a disability that affects the limbs, Will is currently ranked the world number one table tennis player and is the reigning Paralympic gold medallist having triumphed in the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016.

After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, Will could face six months out of action, taking a huge chuck out of his training time before the Tokyo games, which are set to begin in August 2020.

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The Sun revealed yesterday that doctors had given the gold medal winning athlete a “less than slim” chance of recovering in time for this weekend’s Strictly show, which left Will with the difficult decision to leave altogether.

He broke down in tears after announcing his retirement from this year’s competition on It Takes Two: “I’m gutted my Strictly journey has had to come to an end. I’ve loved being part of the show, and am so grateful for the phenomenal support we have received.

“I want to say a special thank you to Janette for believing in me, and giving me the confidence to believe in myself.

“The things we achieved, from our couple’s choice dance, through to the lifts in our salsa, will stay with me forever. I’ve had the time of my life.”

Will sustained his injury from landing awkwardly after jumping from a raised platform in studio rehearsals.

The Sun reported that experts decided he would not recover in time or be able to put in the 12 hours minimum weekly training celebrities are contractually required to do.

His partner Janette said: “Absolutely devastated that Will and I will not be able to continue dancing. We made some incredible memories that I will never forget, and I am pleased to have shared them with such an inspirational person whom I can now call a friend for life.”

Will appeared on It Takes Two on Wednesday evening alongside Janette, wearing a leg brace.

But he isn’t the only one that was injured last week, as pro dancer Neil Jones also had to pull out of the live show, leaving Kevin Clifton to dance with his celebrity partner, Alex Scott.

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Katya Jones was also said to have been unable to train on Wednesday due to a painful neck injury.

Strictly Come Dancing has not yet announced if there will be any changes to this year’s competition following the mid-series withdrawal.

With nine couples left in the competition, a single elimination each week would leave three pairs competing for the Glitterball trophy in the final on 14 December.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday on BBC.


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