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I've achieved the impossible, says ecstatic Bayley

Published 13/09/2016

Golden boy: Will Bayley shows off his table tennis gold medal
Golden boy: Will Bayley shows off his table tennis gold medal

Will Bayley was once laughed off the table, but he stood on top of it as Paralympic champion yesterday after overcoming all the odds and a partisan Brazilian crowd.

The 28-year-old from Tunbridge Wells won Great Britain's 24th gold medal of the Rio Games with a 3-1 Class 7 table tennis singles final win over Brazil's Israel Stroh.

"When I first came into the GB table tennis team, 14 years ago, we were laughed off the table," Bayley said.

"I came in and the Chinese, the Ukrainians, they looked at us and thought, 'these guys are muppets and can't do anything'.

"This was the impossible (but) I've come here and I've conquered."

Bayley won 11-9 5-11 11-9 11-4 before mounting the table to celebrate.

"A couple of seconds later I thought, 'this is stupid, but I've got to blag it and keep on putting my hands in the air'," Bayley said.

"I have never done that before. And to be honest I think if I did it now I probably wouldn't be able to get on the table.

"It was the adrenaline that helped me jump on the table. I've never moved so fast in my life."

He was given a yellow card by an official before hugging her and being embraced by his coach, Slovenian Gorazd Vecko, after sealing a stunning triumph.

"I just gave her a little hug, because she was a little uptight," Bayley added.

"She didn't like me very much. I don't think she wanted me to win."

World champion Bayley was born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that affected all four of his limbs.

He underwent numerous operations at Great Ormond Street Hospital from the age of three months old.

He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the age of seven and began playing table tennis when his grandmother bought him a table after he recovered from chemotherapy.

He paused to consider his journey, not just in life but also in the sport of table tennis.

"I've been through a lot," he said.

"I was one of the best players in Class 6 and then I got reclassified, so it was a massive blow.

"That was the main reason I'm here today. People wrote me off and you should never write Will Bayley off.

"I got written off in the groups here. I was supposed to be out in the groups. I had to beat the Chinese guy 3-0."

Elsewhere, wheelchair racer David Weir's Paralympic-winning streak came to a disappointing end in a highly-competitive T54 400m final.

The 37-year-old from Wallington, Surrey won four gold medals from four events at London 2012, but finished fifth in Rio.

Belfast Telegraph

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