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    Table Tennis



  • The game came into being in the late nineteenth century when it was played largely by children or formed an after-dinner entertainment known in its nearly days as ‘ping-pong’.

  • It vanished for the first 22 years of this century, but reappeared as table tennis, and the first European Championships were held in 1926. Table tennis was added to the Olympic Games in 1988.


  • The table is 1.52 metres wide and 2.7 metres long with a net 0.16 metres high. The table itself is 0.76 metres off the ground and is usually of a dark green colour with a white line running around the edge.

  • For major tournaments the minimum arena space for table and players is almost 12 metres long by 6 metres wide.


  • One of the few games where white clothes are banned, because they would make it harder for players to se the small white celluloid ball. Contestants wear coloured shorts and shirts. The bat can be any size of shape, but is usually fairly small with a simple rubber surface to help make the ball spin.

  • The game, which is played by men and women, includes events for singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.


  • A match can be one game, the best of three of the best of five. Each player has five services in turn and the winner is the first to reach 21 points. Should the score reach 20-20 one service is taken alternately. The game is won by the first player to lead by two points. A serve must bounce each side of the net, but a return shot must clear the net before bouncing.


  • The Chinese dominate the modern game, and in the 1992 Olympics won three of the four gold medals.


  • In the 1955 Table Tennis championships in London, the American player Mrs. Neuberger received a lot of attention. It wasn’t just her brilliant orange shorts, split down the side and tied with a ribbon which had all eyes on her, her unique platinum ring of 25 diamonds in the shape of crossed table tennis bats dazzled the spectators. She commented, ‘I just like bright colours.’

  • In 1975, in a match at the Eden Park cricket ground, Calcutta, torrential rain unexpectedly poured through the roof of the pavilion, delaying the start of a table tennis match. It was found that not only had thieves stolen the lead from the roof, they’d also taken the lavatories and plumbing! Once the rain had stopped, the water had been mopped up, and the opening ceremony was about to begin that it was found that the band was missing. The thieves had stolen their tickets and they had been refused admission to the ground!

  • The ‘slow’ table tennis player Eberhard Scholar surpassingly reached the finals of the World Table tennis championships in Munich in 1969. His advantage was out of the ordinary. The weather had been so cold that the balls had frozen solid and wouldn’t bounce, while the tables absorbed the damp, making play unusually slow. The organizers resorted to desperate measures to even out the advantage – by using hairdryers!

  • Richard Bergmann, the English player, was something of a perfectionist. He once examined 72 balls before he could find one he thought suitable.

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