Table Tennis

Facts

Discipline of Table Tennis
Participants 749
NOCs 103
Competitions held 32 (Venues)
Distinct events 9
IF International Table Tennis Federation

Description

Table tennis was developed in the late 19th century, though its origins are not well documented. Several different sources for its invention are credited, but the modern game is said to have started with the introduction of the celluloid ball circa 1891. This development can be attributed to the Englishman, James Gibb, a world-record holding distance runner, who discovered the celluloid ball during a visit to America. This ensured the success of the game as a domestic pastime, initially known as ping pong, from which a competitive game emerged.

The sport is widely practiced throughout the world. However, it made an unusual entry into the Olympic Program. Table tennis made its Olympic début as a full medal sport in 1988 at Seoul. It was never contested at the Olympics as a demonstration sport, which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) then usually required of new sports. Men and women compete in four Olympic events, singles and doubles for men and women. Since the late 1950s, the Chinese have been by far the dominant factor in table tennis, and have won 24 of the 28 Olympic table tennis titles, with the remaining ones going to South Korea and Sweden. Three Chinese players have won four titles, Wang Nan being the only one to win an additional silver medal.

The Chinese dominance has in fact become a problem for the sport, with even many of the non-Chinese competitors having been born in China (and having changed allegiance for various reasons). The replacement of the doubles events by the team was intended to give other nations an opportunity to compete for the medals.

The governing body of the sport is the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), which was formed in 1926, with nine founding members: Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, India, Sweden, and Wales. As of 2018 ITTF has 226 member associations.

All-time medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
People's Republic of China CHN 28 17 8 53
Republic of Korea KOR 3 3 12 18
Sweden SWE 1 1 1 3
Germany GER 0 3 4 7
Japan JPN 0 2 2 4
Democratic People's Republic of Korea PRK 0 1 3 4
Singapore SGP 0 1 2 3
Chinese Taipei TPE 0 1 1 2
France FRA 0 1 1 2
Yugoslavia YUG 0 1 1 2
Hong Kong, China HKG 0 1 0 1
Denmark DEN 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Wang Nan CHN 4 1 0 5
Deng Yaping CHN 4 0 0 4
Zhang Yining CHN 4 0 0 4
Zhang Jike CHN 3 1 0 4
Li Xiaoxia CHN 3 1 0 4
Ding Ning CHN 3 1 0 4
Ma Lin CHN 3 0 0 3
Ma Long CHN 3 0 0 3
Wang Hao CHN 2 3 0 5
Qiao Hong CHN 2 1 1 4
Liu Guoliang CHN 2 1 1 4

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Singles Men 8
Team Men 3
Singles Women 8
Team Women 3
Singles Boys 2
Singles Girls 2
Team Mixed Youth 2
Doubles Men 5
Doubles Women 5