Strictly Come Dancing 2019

We're backing Rio Paralympic table tennis champion Will Bayley on Strictly Come Dancing.

We’re backing Paralympic table tennis champion Will Bayley in Strictly Come Dancing – and we want you to do the same!

The 2019 edition of the BBC1 show – one of the biggest on TV – launches on Saturday. Tune in at 7.10pm to meet Will, the rest of the celebrity contestants and their professional dance partners.

Will’s team-mates in the GB para table tennis squad, and our leading England players are behind Will all the way – watch out for their messages on social media – and you can show your support using the hashtags #BackBayley and #Strictly on Twitter and Instagram.

Here’s what Will has to say about strutting his stuff in front of an audience of millions on national TV: “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.

“I don’t really dance at parties and I have no dancing background so it will be funny to watch me trying to learn.”

Don’t forget to follow Will’s journey, starting on Saturday September 7 on BBC1, with regular programmes every Saturday from September 21 and the results show following on Sundays.

Click here to visit the Strictly homepage on the BBC website

Inspired by Will? How to get into table tennis

  • Table tennis is fully inclusive – anyone can play using the same equipment and the same rules, though occasionally some minor adaptations are required. Our inclusivity section offers guidance on how people with various disabilities can easily get involved in the sport.
  • TT Kidz is a fun eight-week programme that introduces table tennis to 7-to-11-year-olds.
  • Table tennis clubs all over the country are always looking to welcome new members of all ages and abilities. If you’d rather play more informally or socially, there are thousands of tables in public places ranging from shopping centres to parks and railway stations. Click here to find a place to play.
  • The Ping! programme is responsible for placing many of the tables in public places, as well as opening Ping Pong Parlours in empty retail spaces. Ping in the Community also makes it easy for community groups to set up affordable table tennis sessions – click here to find out more about Ping!
  • Interested in introducing table tennis to your place of work? Research shows staff who make time to play are happier, healthier and more productive! Click here to visit our Loop homepage and find out how easy and affordable it is to introduce workplace table tennis!

About Will Bayley

Paralympic, world and European champion Will is 31 years old and from Tunbridge Wells. He is based in Sheffield with the British Para Table Tennis squad.

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.

He made his first strides in the sport with the Byng Hall club in Tunbridge Wells and went on to represent the Kent men’s able-bodied team. He went on to train at Bristol Table Tennis Academy and became part of the GB para team in 2006.

Since then, Will has claimed a string of medals and competed at three Paralympic Games – in Beijing, London and Rio.

Four years after taking silver in London 2012 Will realised his dream of becoming Paralympic champion in Rio and his celebration provided one of the most iconic images of the 2016 Paralympic Games as he climbed on to the table and stood with his arms outstretched.

Among his other accolades, he won gold in the European Championships in Croatia in 2011 and was voted Players’ Player of the Year. In 2014, he became world champion and went on to win the Disability Sport award at the inaugural Daily Mirror and Sport England Pride of Sport Awards.

As well as his singles gold at Rio, he added bronze in the men’s class 6-8 team event with Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson.

In December 2016 Will was awarded the Bill McGowran Trophy for ‘outstanding achievement in Paralympic sport by a male athlete’ by the Sports Journalists Association and he received an MBE in the New Year Honours List. In October 2017 Will became a father when his partner Fiona gave birth to a baby girl, Bella.