Table Tennis Facts
Table tennis is a sport in which two or four players compete to hit a small ball across a table. Also known as ping pong, the game has been played at the Olympics since 1988. How many of these table tennis facts did you know?
- While table tennis is perhaps most popular in modern times in Asian nations, it was actually developed hundreds of years ago in England: The game has its origins around the 1860s and is believed to have been brought back to England by soldiers returning from India.
- The game was initially described as ping pong, and featured some rather makeshift equipment: Instead of a net, early versions of the game used books, and the lightweight ping pong balls we now use were instead golf balls!
- The heavy golf balls used in the early versions of the game were replaced with a lightweight ball around the start of the 1900s: James W. Gibb, a fan of the game, discovered some light celluloid balls in the US during a holiday.
- The International Table Tennis Federation was established in 1926 and the first world championships were held the same year in London: The first nine member countries were Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, India, Sweden and Wales.
- Changes had to be made to the game in 2000 to make it more easy to watch on TV: The size of the balls were increased slightly to effectively slow them down so that TV viewers could actually keep up with the shots!
- There are a number of different names used around the world to refer to the handheld device used to return the ball over the net: In Britain, it’s known as a bat, while in the US it’s called a paddle. Internationally, the term racket is most favored.
- There are multiple ways of determining which player or team will serve first: It can be as simple as a coin toss, or a player can hide a ball in one hand and ask the other to guess which one it is in. Or, the teams can play a few points and the first to 3 wins can serve first.
- China has enjoyed a clear dominance of the sport since the 1960s, with their players winning 60% of men’s championships since this time: Chinese women have also dominated – since 1971, a non-Chinese female player has only triumphed on 3 occasions.
- The Olympics have also been dominated by China since table tennis was first contested in the 1988 Seoul Games: China has won a total of 53 medals since, 28 of them gold. South Korea has earned 18 medals, but only 3 gold. Sweden is the only other nation to win an Olympic gold.
- Speaking of China’s dominance at the Olympic games, in some events they have never been beaten: In the table tennis women’s singles and men’s doubles events, the Chinese player or teams have won every single gold medal in history.