Will Bayley was beaten but unbowed and cherished a Paralympic silver medal that he believed may never happen.

The 33-year-old tore his ACL in 2019, reaching Tokyo only due to the postponement of the Games and without having taken to a major championship table in two years.

Bayley took an early lead in the men’s singles class 7 gold medal match but China’s Yan Shuo came steaming back to claim the spoils 3-1.

Yan Shuo fought back to leave a well-supported Will Bayley to settle for silver

“I wasn’t ever guaranteed to make it back to this level, so I’m proud to make the final,” he said.

“It’s been a tough few years but I believe I’m the best player in the world, so I’m a bit disappointed not to win it.

“I am the best on my day but I missed some crucial shots, he played well and deserved to win.”

Bayley was unable to retain the title he won in Rio but will take home a third Paralympic singles medal, having also won silver at London 2012.

Bayley took the game to Yan, bronze medallist at the last Games, in the early stages and claimed the opening rubber 11-4.

Will Bayley started strongly in the final

But a crucial missed backhand when he was 9-8 up in the second, which would have given him game point to take a 2-0 lead, proved costly for the Brit.

Yan took control from that point on – nipping the second game 11-9, winning the third convincingly, 11-2, and then wrapping up victory with an 11-8 triumph in the fourth.

Bayley found his best form to claim a gruelling 3-2 win over another Chinese player in Keli Liao in the semi-finals and the Kent star’s motivation to carry on in the sport, and perhaps regain his Paralympic title in Paris, remains undimmed.

“I want to go to Paris and make it four finals in a row, it would be cool to be a part of that,” he said.


I’ve had the odds stacked against me in the last few years, I’ve had people writing me off.

Will Bayley

“I want to keep fighting, I want to keep showing my daughters that you don’t ever give up no matter what the odds are.

“I’ve had the odds stacked against me in the last few years, I’ve had people writing me off.

“I haven’t got to a major final since Rio. I’m a Paralympic guy, so it’s good.”

Bayley will return to the fray on Tuesday in the team event for classes six and seven, competing alongside Paul Karabardak, who won singles bronze.

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