Will Bayley on his way to the gold in China

GB Para table tennis player Will Bayley, who became world champion in China in September, has been shortlisted for The Daily Mirror and Sport England Pride of Sport Awards in the disability sport category.

The awards celebrate elite performers, unsung local heroes and those who volunteer and devote their free time to sport across England. After six weeks of public nominations a shortlist for each of the 11 categories was drawn up by a judging panel which included Paralympic legend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle, England cricket’s Ashes-winner Simon Jones, former England women’s rugby union captain Sue Day, Sport England’s Tanya Joseph, Minister for Sport Helen Grant, and Julie Whelan, CEO of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

Sheffield-based Bayley, from Tunbridge Wells, was born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that affected all four of his limbs and also overcame childhood cancer after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of seven.

The Paralympic silver medalist avenged his London 2012 final defeat by Jochem Wollmert in China, beating the Paralympic champion in the group stages of the World Championship, and went on to beat the European champion Mykhaylo Popov in the semi-final before defeating the world No 1 Maksym Nikolenko from Ukraine in the final to take the gold medal.

“I’m delighted to be shortlisted for this award,” said Bayley. “It is amazing to be recognised alongside some incredible athletes.”

Also shortlisted for the disability sport award are wheelchair tennis player Jordanne Whiley and skier Jade Etherington.

The award ceremony takes place on Wednesday, December 3 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, and will be hosted by television presenter Ben Shepherd.

Fran Bullock
December 1, 2014