Home > Sports Personality of the Year – Will Bailey

Sports Personality of the Year – Will Bailey

Short man with dark hair holidng glass award and smiling flanked by a man in a white shirt and a woman
Will Bayley accepting the award for Sports Personality of the Year, presented by Active Sussex CEO Sadie Mason MBE. Picture by snapitnow.co.uk

“Everyone here has believed in me and they have given me a chance to flourish," says Will Bayley

A Paralympian table tennis player from Peacehaven has been named Sports Personality of the Year at the Sussex Sports Awards.

Will Bayley, 34, who is ranked number one in the world, was praised for his dedication to table tennis at the award on Thursday at Sussex County Cricket Club in Hove.

Teresa Bennett, head of development and coach at Brighton Table Tennis said: “Will Bayley is without a doubt the biggest personality in table tennis. 

“He lights up the room whenever he arrives at Brighton Table Tennis Club and we are so lucky to have him training and giving so much to the club. 

“His dedication to his sport is unbelievable and he is having the most amazing year, reclaiming his number one in the world ranking in individual class 7 Para table tennis. The last time he was number one was in 2019!”

Will, who previously starred on Strictly Come Dancing, was born with arthrogryposis, which affects all four of his limbs, and then when he was seven he was diagnosed with cancer. 

During his recovery he began playing table tennis after his grandmother bought him his first bat and table. 

Since then he has taken the sports world by storm, winning four Paralympic medals, including gold In Rio 2016 and silver in Tokyo 2020. Now, he is going for gold at Paris 2024.

At the awards, Will said:

“To be here back in Sussex and hear all the good work that is happening around Sussex is quite amazing.

“I would not be here without all the volunteers and people who believe in me. I am at the best club I think in the world, Brighton Table Tennis Club 

“Everyone here has believed in me and they have given me a chance to flourish and I feel free again at 34 that I can play free table tennis.”

It has been a successful year for the father-of-two, winning the Slovenia Open, Czech Open and Finnish Open in his international competitions and, more locally, for the first time he became the Sussex Closed mens champion. 

This is the first time in the history of Sussex championships that a para player has become a champion in an able-bodied event. 

Yet he still has time to help others develop their skills.

Teresa said:

“The club has benefited so much from having him around most days.

“Not only do the juniors and adults have the opportunity to see him train and be motivated by his sheer enthusiasm and energy for the game, he also is always willing to give anyone of any standard some tips and practice.”

Will regularly coaches the juniors on a Monday night, sharing his invaluable experiences of both playing and the mental side of the game. 

He is also an incredible role model and influence on four young up and coming local para players that are training at the club. 

“Will is an amazing ambassador for BTTC and para table tennis. Every time he comes to the club he is always smiling and upbeat and is without a doubt one of the most positive people I have met in my life. 

“His infectious personality rubs off on everyone and even if someone at the club is feeling down that day, Will has the ability to lift their spirits.”

To read more about all the winners from the Sussex Sports Awards click here

Will Bailey (right) with members from Brighton Table Tennis Club. Picture by snapitnow.co.uk
Skip to content