Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Welsh rugby international, Elinor Snowsill, signs with 17 Management

We are delighted to announce that the Welsh rugby international, Elinor Snowsill has signed to be represented by 17 Sports Management Limited.

Elinor, who lives in Cardiff, has to-date won 34 caps at Fly Half (10) for the Welsh women’s rugby team. She plays for the Welsh 7’s side and regionally represents Newport Gwent Dragons. Elinor plays for Bristol Ladies in the Women’s Premiership. Away from rugby, Elinor runs Onest Food, delivering delicious, nutritious food in the Cardiff area. Aside from her work with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, Elinor is an accomplished speaker and presenter (in both Welsh and English) she also runs health and nutrition workshops.

Photo - Simon Latham
"We are proud and excited to welcome Elinor to the team" said 17 Sports Management Director Ian Byers. "This is a new venture for us, as we have not previously worked in team sports, although it is an area that we have been looking to expand into for some time. Having watched Elinor play and met with her, it is clear that she is a real talent both on and off the pitch and we are honoured that she has chosen 17 to represent her interests. We are really looking forward to partnering with her at what is a particularly exciting time for women’s rugby.”

Elinor Snowsill said, “I am thrilled to be joining Team 17. Their sincere and passionate approach to sport reflects my own and I am looking forward to developing my rugby career with their support. The calibre of athletes on their books is exceptional and I am honoured to be joining their ranks.”

Away from rugby, Elinor runs health and nutrition workshops
"Rwy'n hynod gyffrous i fod yn ymuno a thîm 17. Mae eu hagwedd ddiffuant ac angerddol tuag at chwaraeon yn adlewyrchu ar fy ngwerthoedd personol, a dwi'n edrych ymlaen at ddatblygu fy ngyrfa rygbi gyda'u cefnogaeth. Mae safon yr athletwyr ar eu llyfrau yn rhagorol, ac mae'n fraint ac anrhydedd i mi fod yn ymuno â'u rhengoedd."

Co founder of 17 Management, Hannah Cockroft MBE said "Elinor has had an impressive rugby career to-date and I look forward to working with her. I am so pleased that she has chosen to join Team17.”

You can follow Elinor on Twitter @elsnowsill and Instagram el.snowsill

#Wales #Rugby #WRugby #Dragons #Bristol #Cardiff #SixNations #Premiership #Sevens #Management #Media #Sponsorship #Sport #Passion #Food #Cymru #Rygbi #Dreigiau #Caerdydd #Rheoli #Cyfryngau #Nawdd #Chwaraeon #Angerdd #Bwyd

Friday, 12 August 2016

Sixth place and a new British record for Tom in Rio

Tom Bosworth, who was competing in his first Olympic Games finished in sixth place in the Men's 20km walk, breaking his own British record in the process finishing with a time of 1 hour, 20 minutes and 13 seconds, 28 seconds quicker than the previous record.

Tom had the race of his life, leading for more than 10k, until he was passed by a group of walkers, as the pace increased, with 2k to go. Tom dug in and managed to stay in contention, passing some competitors in the closing stages to finish in a highly creditable sixth, less than a minute behind the winner.
Tom in action in the Olympic race walk - photo Harry Dineley
After the race in Rio, Tom said "I'm in shock at what happened, I just thought I will take it on. The pace was so easy, I thought people would just come with me. I felt good and was comfortable with the pace I was going, but I knew I had the best in the world behind me and I knew they would catch me, but I just tried to hold on."

 "I dropped down to ninth at one point, but I thought, 'screw this, I've not led the race for this long to finish outside the top eight and I just went for it. I can't be disappointed with sixth place at the Olympics, to break the British record by such a margin, and at the Olympics, is a dream come true."

Andi Drake, who coaches Tom at the National Race Walk Centre in Leeds; "All Tom's technical, tactical, physical and mental preparation numbers were his best ever and he executed his process goals perfectly. Tom walked at his pace and despite being passed in the closing kilometers he did a negative split, to achieve a new British record. This was the best performance by a GB athlete in the race walks since 1972."

Tom's manager Ian Byers said; We at 17 Management are all so proud of Tom, we know just how hard he works and how much he has sacrificed to pursue his Olympic dream. To come into the race ranked 37th, lead for over 10k and finish 6th, whilst smashing his British record is an incredible achievement. It should be remembered that Tom is still relatively young in terms of race walking and he can only get better through the next Olympic cycle to Tokyo 2020."

Julian Bosworth, Tom's father; "We are so proud of Tom, I can hardly put any words to how I feel right now". Those thoughts were echoed by Tom's partner, Harry, who added; "All his hard work is paying off, we could not be happier".
Find out more about Tom via his website
You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomBosworth

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Nine athletes selected for Rio 2016!

We are so proud that all nine of the athletes, that we represent, who were available for selection for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio, have been selected.
The Olympic Games take place between 5 and 21 August. Tom Bosworth will take part in the 20k Race Walk and Jade Lally will compete in the Womens Discus.
The Paralympic Games are between 29 August and 9 September. Our athletes who will be competing are;
Ben Rowlings - T34 Wheelchair Racer, 100 and 800m
Hannah Cockroft - T34 Wheelchair Racer, 100, 400 and 800m
Hannah Russell - S12, 50 and 100m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke
Jordanne Whiley - Wheelchair Tennis, Singles and Doubles (with Lucy Shuker)
Julie Rogers - T42 Sprinter, 100m
Rob Oliver - Paracanoe K1, 200m
Will Bayley - Para Table Tennis, C7 Singles and Team Competition
Do spare a thought though for judoka Kelly Edwards who was ruled out of Olympic selection by a concussion injury. The good news is that Kelly is recovering well and will return to competition soon.
All the very best to our team going to Rio, we will be cheering you on, every step of the way! #Team17 #TheWinningTeam.
Follow the progress of our athletes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Jordanne wins Wimbledon

Jordanne Whiley won her ninth Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, when she partnered Japan's Yui Kamiji to their third successive Wimbledon Doubles title.

Jordanne and Yui, the 2014 and 2015 champions, played Dutch second seeds Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot in the Ladies Doubles Final, the pairs know each other very well having met in the last four Wimbledon finals. Unlike previous years the final was a relatively easy affair with Jordanne and Yui winning four games in a row in the first set and five games in a row in the second set to close out a 6-2, 6-2 victory, in just 69 minutes.

“We’re both in a bit of shock if I’m honest,” said Jordanne. “We never thought we could win three in a row as Jiske and Aniek are so strong but today I really felt like we played the best tennis at a Grand Slam. This, I consider, to be 'the slam.' Everyone wants to win Wimbledon. For me, it's my home. To win at Wimbledon is so special and the crowd today were brilliant. We just love being on court with each other. Yui is always happy. I can be quite an emotional rollercoaster. It's nice for me to have someone on the court who you know every single day, they're smiling and laughing."

The result was something of a consolation for Jordanne who had lost to van Koot in the women's singles semi-final earlier in the week.
Find out more about Jordanne via her website
Follow Jordanne on Twitter @jordannejoyce92

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

17 support the Dragons Invitational Rugby 7's team

17 Sports Management Limited are proud and excited to announce our support of the Dragons Invitational 7's team. The Dragons provide internationally capped players, and those with the potential to play at international level, the opportunity to represent a competitive women's 7s team on the thriving UK circuit. "Having built our business and established our reputation working with talent in individual sports, we have been looking for an opportunity to get involved in team sports, like rugby, netball, football and cricket, said Ian Byers of 17 Management. " The Dragons are a young side, but one that is packed full of exciting talent and experienced 7s players who enjoy their sport. They match our company ethos and we look forward to working not just with individual players but the team as a whole" he added.

"At 17, we are firm believers in the benefits and values of womens sport, which gives outstanding opportunities for brands to increase their profile and achieve significant value. The involvement of companies like Kia with England womens cricket and SSE with their sponsorship of the Womens FA Cup at the top level are testament to this, but opportunities exist at all levels, as is shown by companies such as SIM Gear, Vita Coco and Outback's support of the Dragons. Womens sport continues to grow and it is building greater profile at national level, more women are participating in sport and spectator numbers continue to rise. It is a great time to be involved".

Speaking about the link, Dragons 7's Director of Rugby, Nigel Francis said, "I'm delighted that we are going to be working with 17, they represent a number of very high profile Olympic and Paralympic athletes and we are very lucky to be the first team they have chosen to represent. I think the link illustrates how far we have come as a brand and I look forward to seeing what the future holds with this exciting venture".

Watch out for the "17" logo on the Dragons shirts this season, at the following competitions in 2016;

14th May - Hartpury 7s - CHAMPIONS!
15th June - Newquay 7s
16th July - Valentines 7s (tbc)
6th August - Find Rugby Now 7s
4th June - Summer Social
18th June - Frome 7s (tbc)
2nd July - West Country 7s

For more information on the Dragons vist and follow them on Twitter @Dragons7s

#Rugby #GreenIsTheNewBlack #GoDragons

Friday, 6 May 2016

A balanced future for commercialism in sport

This article by Myak Homberger first appeared in Sports International Magazine.
Management companies have grown up very quickly over the last couple of years as women’s sport has seen exponential growth and women have been awarded full time contracts.

With the Olympics and Paralympics on the horizon the quest to sign up athletes is higher than ever before. I thought that it would be good to talk with Ian Byers founder and MD of 17 Sports Management Limited about their unique approach to sports management. What I have liked about Ian and his team from day one has been the care and value they place on the athlete and their wellbeing that far outstrips any financial value to them. It is this ethos that has bound women around the world for years as they have struggled to balance full time jobs and international careers.

Athlete’s need to train and focus on their sport, but they need money to compete and live yet for so many so much of their time is taken up with trying to be a businesswoman/administrator that they aren’t reaching their potential. What Ian and the team provide is an environment in which the athlete can focus on their training knowing that there are people putting their best interest at the fore and handling the business and administrative side of their lives for them.

Like so many involved in women’s sport Ian started in a voluntary capacity, helping and managing Paralympic gold medallist Hannah Cockroft MBE for 12 months. With a background in the corporate world and no previous experience in athlete management, Ian came to it with a completely different view and approach. As Ian explained “this was a good grounding as each decision was made with Hannah's best interest in mind, at all times, never what was best for me”. Good news spreads fast and soon people were asking for Ian to represent them and 17 Management was born with Ian and Hannah.
Hannah Cockroft MBE and Ian Byers
Ian describes the ethos of the company in a nutshell, “what is in the best interest of the athlete” he explained and expanded on what he sees as their role “we are a combination of minder, PA, secretary, defender, friend and shoulder to cry on”. To many it may seem that the role of the management company is to get sponsorship but as Ian explained it’s far more than that and it didn’t even feature in his above list which is a lot longer than most would expect of an agent. For a start they communicate with each athlete a few times each week about everything from how training is going, to how they are feeling, to the obvious of potential work. What might surprise many, is that as well as this, the key to any relationship 17 Management have with an athlete is that they spend significant time on increasing the athletes profiles. Ian is very clear that they want to be able to approach potential sponsors with athletes that have profile and are known. As Ian explained “this is the long game” when talking about this strategy and how they see their stable of athletes. The approach is simple, take talented athletes on, look after them and ensure that all their admin and business needs are taken care of. Then build awareness of them and increase their profile all whilst developing a relationship with them by being in contact very regularly so the team can understand the athlete inside out. Only at this point do Ian and the team start to look for sponsorship and revenue streams for the athlete. This is athlete centric management that builds for the future.

Sponsorship, appearances and speaking events are clearly the core of how 17 Management seek to bring revenue to the athlete’s. Its very easy to take a quick buck and run but Ian doesn’t want to do that, he wants to build a future that is sustainable for the athlete and this is of immeasurable value to them. Having known and worked with Ian for more than a year and seen how the business has grown and the athlete’s that I have had contact with via 17 Management, I can see first-hand how this approach is working and the benefits it brings. The athletes looked after by Ian and the team are just that, looked after and they know it and it is making the world of differences to them.
For me what is very revealing and sums up Ian and the 17 Management team is his reply when we speak about Rio and their role with their athletes in the build up to it and post Rio. Going into Rio his focus is on shielding them from the pressure of external expectation as well as too many media engagements that detract from their training. Post Rio Ian talked about manging the various issues that come from winning and losing “the value of difference between gold and silver is huge and yet the distance can be minimal, as little as .001 of a second in time.” For the winners Ian’s focus is on once again doing what is best for the athlete and not just accepting every lucrative offer that comes along. He is clear that in the post Rio euphoria the media and sponsorship interest will be huge and the team will be looking after and supporting the athlete to ensure they aren’t pressured into anything. This will include getting down time to recover, fulfil all their commitments and accepting financial deals that retain their core values. This is a tough challenge in a world that loves to maximise the money they can make as quickly as possible at the cost of the athlete, the antithesis of 17 Management.

For the athletes that “lose” and I use this in loose terms relative to gold, silver, bronze or no medal. My view is that just getting to Rio is an achievement but sport is measured in medals. As a subject this is very rarely dealt with and so I find it surprising that Ian mentions this in the same breath as the winning athletes and his focus post Rio. For these athletes Ian says “it’s about managing the disappointment and ensuring they don’t get forgotten” this comment alone for me shows the ethos and values that are in action. The conversation is always about the winners but there are those that trained as hard and are as committed but on the day didn’t get to that line 0.001 of a second faster than the next person. It’s for these athletes that people like Ian are good for them and why 17 Management is a good example for sports management, transcending the chase for money and winners.

People like Ian and the team at 17 Management are the measure with which management companies should be compared and I look forward to seeing the benefit of this in women’s sport around the globe.
This article is reproduced with kind permission of Sports International Magazine.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Jade Lally signs with 17

We are delighted to announce that the English discus record holder Jade Lally has signed to be represented by 17 Sports Management Limited.
Jade from Horsham, competed for England in the women's discus at the 2014 Commonwealth Games where she won a bronze medal. In 2016 she made the big breakthrough in class throwing in excess of 65m, giving her the qualifying standard for the Rio Olympic Games.

"We are proud and excited to welcome Jade to the team" said 17 Sports Management Director Ian Byers. "Jade had a number of opportunities to sign with other companies and we are delighted that she chose 17 to represent her best interests. 2016 is a huge year for Jade and we will be working closely with her ensure that she has the best opportunities come the Olympic Games later this year".

Co founder of 17 Management, Hannah Cockroft MBE said "After a super successful start to the year, breaking the English discus record numerous times, we're excited to see how far Jade can go and we're so pleased that she has chosen us to go on the journey with her. Welcome to #Team17, Jade"!
Jade said, "super excited to have teamed up with 17 Management. I had many opportunities to sign with other companies but 17 have been on my radar for some time and I'm delighted that we are officially working together".
Recently Jade gave a very good interview to Spikes Magazine, where she talks about her career to date and her aims and aspirations for the future. You can read the article here Spikes Magazine

You can follow Jade on Twitter @JadeLallyT69
Through her Facebook page or her website

Monday, 21 March 2016

A new British 20k record for Tom Bosworth

British No.1 race walker Tom Bosworth walked into the record books at the weekend when he broke a British record that had stood since 1988.

The 35th annual IAAF Race Walk Challenge was held in Dudince, Slovakia and Tom was in great form going into the weekend having beaten his own 3km indoor record just weeks earlier at the British Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield.

The 20km race walk is the Olympic distance that Tom is hopeful to be contesting in Rio this summer so this was a great opportunity for him to see where his winter training had left him in terms of performance.

Photo courtesy of Pavol Uhrin -

After sitting at the back of the lead pack for the first 4km Tom decided to make a risky move and take the lead, over taking some of the big names in race walking in the process, and through working hard over the next few kilometres he had pulled out a gap of around 10 seconds at the half way point.
The next few kilometres were tough but by managing to grit his teeth and push through, Tom gave it his all to take victory and beat the British record for the 20km walk, that was originally set before he was even born, by 82 seconds.

You can follow Tom’s #RoadtoRio via his website and on Twitter @tombosworth

Friday, 26 February 2016

Devastating news for Kelly Edwards

British judo champion Kelly Edwards, 24, from Telford, is recovering from the devastating news that, due to several concussion injuries sustained during competition in 2015/16, her hopes of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics are over.

Having already won a Commonwealth Games Silver medal, in the -52kg category, Kelly was set to be an exciting prospect for a medal in Rio, however she landed on her head during the Mongolian Grand Prix in July 2015 and has since suffered repetitive symptoms from the injury.

Kelly explained “I landed badly on my head in Mongolia, and had a headache afterwards that wouldn’t go, but I just put it down to jet lag as I had been travelling and competing so much to gain the vital competition points to qualify for Rio. However, I saw the team physio who told me I had all the symptoms of concussion and we agreed I should take two weeks off to rest and recover.”

Returning to competition at the end of August 2015 for the World Championships, Kelly was symptom free and was believed to have fully recovered. After a bad landing during a fight at the Uzbekistan Grand Prix in October, Kelly then suffered more symptoms. Being a competitive and determined athlete, who was desperate to represent her country at the Rio Olympics, and thinking the symptoms would pass, Kelly still went to compete in Portugal just a week later, saying “I knew that if I fought in Portugal I had a big chance of a medal and gaining more Rio qualification points. At that time I just didn’t realise how serious my concussion was.”

Returning from Portugal, Kelly took two months off competition, during which time she saw a Neurologist and had scans to determine the extent of any injury and to ensure there was no underlying issue, before returning to training again just before Christmas without any problems occurring.  

The first international competition of 2016 was held in Cuba during January, where Kelly fought well without any sign of the concussion. However, two weeks later at the Paris Grand Slam, Kelly suffered another blow to her head and all the symptoms returned and it is following this, the decision has been made that in order to fully recover from the head injury, Kelly must take six months away from competition. 

Kelly gave her reaction to this decision “when I was given the advice of the medical team I was devastated as it meant my Rio Olympic dream was over. However, I’ve read a number of articles about concussion and the long term effects since I was first diagnosed and I now understand that I do need this time to heal.” Adding “I have to accept that as an athlete, I will get injuries and this is just another injury and whilst I would have loved to represent my country in Rio, I shall come back stronger and better after a six-month block of good training and I am excited about the long term future and will be focused on the 2017 World Championships in Budapest.”

You can follow Kelly on Twitter @kel_Edwards1 and via her website
Photograph of Kelly by Lukasz Warzecha @LukaszWarzecha

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Will Bayley, an article by Spencer Boston

Will Bayley knew this was the most important moment in his life. The years of sacrifice and hard work had finally paid off. The constant pain from his childhood was almost a distant memory as he stood in front of the crowd that still wouldn’t call his name. Will Bayley was standing in Beijing, in the final of the world para table tennis championships. As he stood there, he remembered the crowd in the London Paralympics in 2012, the 5000 people that were screaming for him.

He had secured a silver medal in London, losing in the final to the German champion. It had been a long two years of hurt, but that was in his past. His life's ambition was now in the present. Years of dreaming and training had led him to this one moment. Today he could officially become the best in the world. The time for dreaming was over, this was reality. The next few moments could change everything; the culmination of a battle that had lasted his entire life. 

Will Bayley was born in 1988 with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that affects all four of his limbs.

Arthrogryposis is a severe curving of the joints causing serious muscle weakness; this means that Will is unable to flex his affected joints. Most people who suffer with this condition, (one in three thousand in the UK.) are normally afflicted in two joints, Will is severely effected in four. As a baby, he underwent a multitude of bone breaking operations at Great Ormond Street Hospital including the painful procedure of having his feet cemented to his legs.

Will has no ankles, and doctors feared he would never walk. But Will Bayley was a born fighter. He refused to be beaten, and after many more operations that saw him spend a great deal of his young life in hospital, he began to walk.

The doctors and nurses were impressed and proud of his bravery, but pride however, can sometimes be followed by disappointment, and no one expected the shock and sadness that came next. 

At the age of seven, Will was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a form of cancer that develops in the vessels and glands throughout the entire body. 

Yet again Will found himself returning to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Chemotherapy was painful and made the seven year old ill; so ill that he wondered if it was worth all the pain and suffering. Did every day have to be like this? One morning he asked his mother if he had to continue with the treatment. Chrissie, (Will's mother) remembers the moment. 

"We were all watching the television when he said, 'I don't want to do this anymore.' He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, 'Will I die if I stop?' I said yes. The next morning when I got up, he was sitting by the front door with his bag packed ready to go to hospital." 

Will had to undergo relentless treatment, but he never gave up. 

"I just knew that there was something inside him that was always going to cope and that he would come out fighting,” says Chrissie. "We had to remain strong for Will too. He couldn't know how worried and upset we were. He had so much to cope with on a daily basis that adding to his emotional burden would have been unforgivable.” 

Chrissie paused and looked down at the ground for a few seconds, remembering those dark times. 

“My husband Garry and I did our crying at night. When Will was asleep, we dropped the brave facade and broke down. It was heartbreaking watching our child suffer. But we always kept strong for him, we had to."

Even though Will is now twenty eight years old, he can still remember those terrible days. 

"Chemotherapy was tough. I went through a lot of pain and hardship as a kid and I kept having setbacks. I got infections, ulcers and had to keep going back into hospital. I did feel like giving up lots of times, but something inside kept driving me on." 

Will recalls the camaraderie of Great Ormond Street Hospital. 

"Even though the treatment was terrible, and I felt awful at the time, I slowly started to improve. That was because there were so many other children going through similar things as me. We all played together and gained strength from each other."

It was while he was gaining strength from his friends in hospital that his grandma bought him a table tennis set. The idea was to distract him from the realities of his illness and to help with his rehabilitation. 

"I was really into sport before my cancer was diagnosed," says Will, "mostly football, so while I was recovering my grandma said I should try to be more active. It's all because of her that I discovered table tennis." 

It couldn't have been more perfect, not only did Will have a natural aptitude for the sport, but the sport seemed to be suited to his problems. 

"You just need to stand at the table when you first start," says Will, "then you slowly get into it, moving faster with a focused purpose. It's a great sport for the mind as well as the body." 

Will loved his table tennis set and played whenever he could. The passion and potential he had for the sport was becoming obvious. After a while, the garage wasn’t big enough to hold his enthusiasm, Will needed a new challenge. With the support of his family, he ventured to Tunbridge Well's Byng Hall Table Tennis Club to see if he could improve his game and take on some new competition. He could barely walk, but he was ready to take on all challengers. Gary Howes, who has coached Will for fifteen years, was at the club that day. 

"When Will came into the club he could barely walk because of his condition. I had to specially cut one of the handles of a bat so that it would fit into his hand. But he showed incredible promise."

It wasn’t long before Will was winning local and national tournaments, and his hard work and dedication would soon be noticed and tested to the limit. At the age of seventeen, Will was asked to move from Groombridge in Tunbridge Wells to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. 

There he would be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE and world champion boxer Amir Khan. Will describes how being among the greats has helped him and his colleagues. 

“Mixing with disabled and able bodied athletes is a huge inspiration. To be around such great sports people who were and are winning world championships breeds a new and stronger desire to win things. Since being at the English Institute of Sport I’ve worked harder and played harder. My game has improved so much, and that is because living among so many people with the same desire makes winning and training almost second nature. It’s something that must be instilled in every athlete with world title ambitions.” 

Will cannot praise the Institute highly enough. 

“We are drilled so effectively each day, that playing table tennis becomes a natural instinct rather than something to dwell on. When you are in a tournament and playing some of the best players in the world, you don't have time to think. Not even for a split second. When you are playing at an International level of sport, you don't think, you feel. You almost go into automatic pilot. All the years and years of intense training come down to one moment. I have practised a million forehands so that I can play one instinctive shot in a world championship final. That's how hard you have to train to be the best. A thousand hours of practice for one second’s use." 

Hard work is a strong trait in Will, and since moving to Sheffield he trains six hours a day six days a week. 

"We grind out techniques, lots of basic exercises in the morning and service practise in the afternoon. On Saturdays we play a competition. It’s hard, but you work through the pain. Sometimes I get home and I can barely walk, but it’s worth it because training regularly means that fatigue is never a problem in a big game or tournament.” 

It was this attitude that helped Will in the 2012 London Paralympics. Will was selected for the England team and was soon making his way to the final. Beating world class players in every round didn’t mean that nerves wouldn’t creep into his game. It wasn’t long before Will found himself standing in the wings anxiously waiting to play the final against his biggest rival, the German champion Jochen Wollmert. It was a sellout crowd and the pinnacle of everything Will had been training for all his life. 

"It's the only time I've ever been scared at a tournament,” says Will, “I was in the holding area in London waiting to go out and play the final. A ball girl came up to me and said 'Will, there are 5000 people out there waiting for you and millions of people watching on TV. Good luck.' I thought, oh God, that's all I need, more pressure." 

The match lasted forty long gruelling minutes. Nerves from playing in front of his home crowd had an effect on Will's performance, and his opponent Jochen Wollmert played an excellent tactical game. Will eventually lost 3-1 and collapsed on the ground in tears. Jochen, a long time friend and sporting nemesis walked around the table and picked him up. He paid tribute to Will and showed some sympathy at the way a home crowd can sometimes be a hindrance in the biggest sporting event in the world. 

Jochen says, "It was a big game and a fantastic crowd. My dream was to make it to the final against the local matador Will Bayley. The last time I won against him was in Beijing, and since then, I have lost against him six times. It was emotional for Will in front of his home crowd because they celebrated him with every shot he played. He respected that and returned the favour with lots of fist pumps and fought with his life for every point. But that kind of pressure can make you nervous. I could see that today."

Will left the 2012 Paralympics with a silver medal. For most people that would be a major achievement, but Will Bayley isn’t most people, he was proud but devastated. He had lost in front of his home crowd at the biggest sports tournament in the world. He was determined to make things better, but he would have to wait two long agonising years before he could do that. The World Championships were to be held in Beijing in 2014, and Will had already made his mind up, he would become World Champion. 

Hard training was followed by even harder training until finally, Will arrived in Beijing. The World Championships were exactly as Will expected, and his opponents were as focused as he was. Game after game, round after round, Will beat everyone that was put in front of him. Soon he was in the final, the biggest game of his life. 

His opponent, Maksym Nikolenko was, and is an exceptional player. Becoming world champion was about to get even harder. The final was tough and the two players were evenly matched. The points were close and as the match came to a close, Maksym needed time to gather his thoughts. He was two points away from being world champion, he needed to focus. Will only needed one more point, and it was his serve. The pressure was unbearable.  

Maksym walked to the left side of the table and rubbed his fingers across the wooden structure. He stroked the table, almost touching the net. He was breathing slowly and trying to regain his composure. He stroked the table again.  

The umpire spoke coldly,  

“Continue please,”

Maksym walked back to his side of the table. Will watched him, equally trying to keep his cool and remain focused.

 “Are you ready?” Will asked calmly. Maksym replied,  

“No,” he paused for two, maybe three seconds, Will waited patiently, then Maksym crouched down. Slowly, with a voice filled with emotion, he said “Now I’m ready,”  

Will bounced the ball on the table, then again, twice more. He paused, taking it all in. This was it, one shot away from being World Champion. The nerves were coursing through his body, but the years of practise were kicking in. He needed to focus. He bounced the ball three times more. One last breath, and then he served. The ball came back, Will countered with a backhand, but Maksym returned again, backhand, return, backhand. Game over, Will Bayley was World Champion. He screamed, he punched the air; he pulled his shirt off and threw it to the ground.  

“Yes!” he cried as he fell to his knees.  

Exhaustion, nerves and relief ricocheted through his body as he fell forwards and lay face down on the ground weeping. Crying for England, crying for his coach, crying for his friends and family and most of all, for himself. For all the years of pain and trauma. For the countless hours of exhaustion on the training tables and operating tables. For the courage and determination that had driven him to this one moment in time.  

Will Bayley was the World Champion. He was officially the best in the world. A world where we complain so much about so little. A world and life so many of us take for granted. Will Bayley started life with a disability that caused him tremendous pain every day. Facing cancer as a child and defeating it. Finding his passion and using all of his inner strength and determination to become the very best. 

Using this power of positivity, Will wants to make a difference to people around the globe. He is convinced that table tennis is the right sport for children with disabilities and wants to encourage as many kids as possible to pick up a paddle.

"From the minute I picked up the bat I loved it! I think overcoming the hurdles I’ve had in my life has made me more determined to be successful and get the best out of myself every day. I see life as a gift. We should all try to get the most out of every second. My dream is to inspire other cancer sufferers and disabled children into sport and show them that nothing is impossible."  

Will Bayley can teach us all a valuable lesson about life. He doesn't have time for self pity and he doesn’t allow the minor irritations that plague most of us on a daily basis. He knows what is important, because he nearly lost it all. He understands what matters. Life is a gift we should open every day. We should unwrap it with the smile and joy of a child. We all have problems, but we all have reasons to be thankful. We all have the power to choose how we feel every day. Will chooses to be happy. He chooses positivity. He chooses to embrace every moment of life and live it to the full. How many of us can say that?
Our thanks to Spencer Boston for his permission to reproduce his article in full.
Follow Will Bayley on Twitter @WillBayleyTT
Follow Spencer Boston on Twitter @haikushadow

Friday, 22 January 2016

Will Bayley joins 17 Management

Will Bayley, the reigning World Champion and World Ranked Number One Table Tennis (C7) player, has signed to be represented by 17 Sports Management, the company co founded by Hannah Cockroft in 2014.

Will (28) from Tunbridge Wells 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. At the age of seven Will returned to Great Ormond Street for chemotherapy when he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was while recovering from cancer that his grandmother bought him his first table tennis table, which started Will on his sporting journey. 

Will represented Paralympics GB in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and then went on to win individual silver and team bronze medals at the London 2012 Games. Will first became the World Number One ranked player in 2012.

 "We are excited to welcome Will to the team and are very pleased to be working with him" said 17 Sports Management Director Ian Byers. "Will had a number of opportunities to sign with other companies and we are delighted that he chose 17 to represent his interests. Will is a special talent and we will work closely with him and his coaching team to manage his career, maintaining the correct balance at all times between his training, competition, commercial and media activities. Nothing will be allowed to disrupt his preparation for Rio, where he has a real chance of winning a gold medal".

Co founder of 17 Management, Hannah Cockroft MBE said "I am delighted to welcome Will to the team, I look forward to working with him and sharing experiences on our journey to Rio and beyond".

Will said, "I am pleased to join the team at 17 Management, I have been impressed with the work that they have done with a number of my friends and team mates. I like their way of working and I know that they will always have my best interests at heart".

Will was chosen as one of the faces of the Paralympics GB Supercharge campaign
17 Sports Management, represent the interests of a number of disabled and able bodied sports people, from up and coming talent to World Champions. More information on the company and the athletes represented can be found at
Watch out for Will's new website coming soon;

You can follow Will on Twitter @WillBayleytt
#TableTennis #WorldChampion #TeamGB #Supercharge #Rio #London2012 #Beijing

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Richard Browne Jr injured in car crash

US Paralympic T44 athlete and double World Champion, Richard Browne Jr. has sustained broken ribs and a heavy concussion following a road traffic accident whilst in Florida. Browne (24) was travelling in a car which was hit by a lorry that had failed to stop at a red light. After two nights in hospital, Richard was released and he is now recuperating at home in Florida.
Richard's manager, Ian Byers of 17 Management, said "Richard is badly shaken up and in a lot of pain at the moment, but he was very lucky. Doctors have advised that he should rest for 3 weeks, which will impact on his winter training and may mean that we have to review his early season race plans. However, Richard has overcome far greater adversity in his life and I am confident that he will be in top shape and ready to challenge for a place on the US Olympic team over 200m and to contend for two individual gold medals at the Rio Paralympic Games”.