Quickfire Q's - The Table Tennis Gold Medallist
Table Tennis : Will Bayley answers our questions
Will Bayley MBE won Gold at the 2016 Summer Paralympic games in Rio, having bagged Silver in London back in 2012. Now 29, Will has been playing table tennis since the age of 12. His story is made even more remarkable by the fact that he was born with arthrogryposis, which affects all four of his limbs. We fired our usual style of speedy questions Wills way...
The Sporting Blog: Will, pretty much everyone reading this will have had a go at table tennis at some point. A few will think they are pretty good! What is the one key attribute you would say is necessary to be a good table tennis player?
Will Bayley: Co-ordination!!
TSB: How important is getting the right equipment when starting out? Should people looking to take up the game spend a lot of money on bats/rubbers etc or is best to just get a bat and start hitting?
WB: Best to just get a bat (not expensive), start hitting and practice as much as possible before investing in a decent blade or rubbers.
TSB: How important is coaching at a young age? It seems like a game where once bad habits are in, or you have a predisposed technique (from tennis or squash etc) they are hard to get rid of!
WB: Coaching at a young age is very important, young players develop bad habits and they can be hard to kick as they get older... (ED: The Sporting Blog team are a walking example of this)
TSB: The Sporting Blog editor once had the privilege of trying to return a serve from Matthew Syed. The ball was literally impossible to control. How do you counteract spin on serve?
WB: This takes a LOT of practice. You have to counteract the revs on the ball by aiming in the opposite direction of the spin... difficult to articulate this one!
TSB: What is the best venue you have played at? For atmosphere and facilities etc?
WB: London 2012 Paralympics (by far)! Playing in front of a home crowd was not only a privilege but an incredibly special time for me.
TSB: Who is the toughest opponent you have faced?
WB: A German player by the name of Jochen Wollmert.
TSB: What do we need to do in the UK to get more top class table tennis players?
WB: If we had more full time clubs where tables were up all the time... the time and access to players would make a huge difference.
TSB: You've overcome more than anyone's fair share of adversity.. what's your advice for youngsters who have serious obstacles to overcome in order to achieve their goals in sport?
WB: Just to stay level headed. However well or badly you are doing. Keep an even mentality. Don't be too happy when you're succeeding and definitely don't be too sad if you feel like you're not.
Check out what Will is up to at www.willbayley.com and on Twitter @willbayleytt
All photographs courtesy of Photobanks