Published: 09:14, 28 August 2021
| Updated: 09:15, 28 August 2021
Will Bayley prides himself on being a showman but there better be a podium topping encore after this display in Tokyo.
Five years ago, after striking table tennis gold in Rio, he clambered onto the table, arms outstretched while officials frantically tried to get him down. He then danced a gleeful jig, while the table shuddered, earning him a celebrity agent and a call-up from Strictly.
After winning his semi-final in the early hours of Saturday, Bayley tore around the arena, kicking the hoardings and bellowing at the top of his voice, the sort of behaviour that would get a very stern ticking off from head judge Len.
A less than impressed official brandished a yellow card - Bayley knows the line for a straight red - while his beaten opponent, China's Liao Keli, looked less than impressed.
Bayley wouldn't have been in Japan if the Paralympics were held last year, the knee injury he picked up while contesting the Glitterball Trophy, tearing his cruciate ligament and all of his meniscus, needing surgery.
The 33-year old won the first two games against his final four opponent before Liao levelled to take the match into a decider which Bayley finally closed out in 53 minutes. Another Chinese rival awaits in Sunday's final, 2016 bronze medallist Yan Shuo.
"That was pure relief," said Bayley, from Tunbridge Wells. "I thought I'd thrown it away and that was really going through my mind.
"I showed some real guts at the end and I played some really big points because he didn’t stop coming at me.
"I was expecting him to stop playing so well but he didn’t - after two sets down he just blew me away, so it was difficult.
“He’s improved so much; he is not the same player I played in Rio, he is a better player now. He is a really world class and I knew I was going to have to be at my best. I managed to win but it was so hard."
However, there was disappointment for fellow Kent player Ross Wilson in his table tennis class, needing to beat Ukraine's Maksym Nikolenko in the quarter-finals to guarantee a bronze medal, he lost 3-1.
Sheppey's Wilson, 26, is competing at his third Games in Tokyo having been part of two bronze medal team victories in London and Rio.
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