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Will Bayley expecting to compete in Tokyo despite 'Strictly Come Dancing' injury

The 31-year-old is looking to defend his Paralympic title in Japan next summer.

Will Bayley is on target to defend his Paralympic table tennis title in Tokyo despite injury fears after dropping out of Strictly Come Dancing.

Bayley was forced to pull out of the celebrity BBC show in week seven after injuring his knee during rehearsals.

The 31-year-old – who danced on the table after claiming gold in the Class 7 category in Rio in 2016 – initially feared the incident could threaten his hopes of defending his title.

Will Bayley
Will Bayley was forced to pull out of Strictly due to injury (Guy Levy/BBC)

But British Para Table Tennis performance director Gorazd Vecko believes Bayley is not only on track for Japan – but that his dancing stint could make him more competitive than ever.

Vecko told the PA news agency: "Will's knee injury will continue to be assessed by the medical team at the EIS in Sheffield over the next few weeks.

"But they are confident that he will be fully fit to defend his Paralympic title in Tokyo next summer.

"Will has enjoyed taking on a new challenge and feels that learning to dance has improved his balance and movement, both of which will help him when he is playing table tennis."

Great Britain team-mate and two-time Paralympic bronze medallist Aaron McKibbin paid tribute to the impact Bayley's Strictly appearance has had on their sport.

McKibbin told the PA news agency: "All of a sudden everybody seems to know what para table tennis is. What Will's done has been incredible and it can only continue to help raise the profile."

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