Chances are, you know someone who has a table tennis court. Children and adults of all ages can enjoy the sport, which has the ability to turn basements all over the globe into sports arenas. Table tennis, which is commonly called ping pong, is one of the world's most popular sports. While most people are familiar with the casual, fun games that are played every day, table tennis is also a fiercely competitive international sport.
History: It is widely believed that table tennis started as a party game in England in the late 1800s. At that time, outdoor tennis was extremely popular in England, and fans wanted a way to play after dark and in cold weather. There are stories saying that the first table tennis nets were stacks of books and the first balls were corks!
Competitive table tennis: Over the years, the sport grew in popularity. The International Table Tennis Federation started in 1926, and the first international championship competition took place the following year. In 1988, table tennis became an Olympic sport!
Worldwide game: While athletes from all over the world play table tennis, it is the most popular in Asia, particularly China. Chinese table tennis players have dominated the sport at the Olympics for the last 20 years. Of the 24 gold medals awarded in men's and women's competition, China has won 20 of them! China has also won 13 silver and eight bronze medals, by far the most of any country. The United States has never won a medal in Olympic table tennis. Other competitions: In addition to the Olympics, there are many other national and international competitions. The biggest is the annual World Championships, which has been held in places like Tokyo, Japan, New Delhi, India and Manchester, England. At these events, competitions are held in both singles and doubles, just like in regular tennis.
Styles of play: Most people are familiar with the sport of table tennis, and enjoy playing it. It can be a casual, laid-back game played after school with friends. But it can also be a fast-paced, frantic game that truly tests athletic ability! The best table tennis players in the world can serve the ball over 100 miles per hour! That is why when you see high-level table tennis on TV, the players stand very far back from the table. These players also can put a tremendous amount of spin on the ball. The ball can hit one side of the table and land all the way on the other!
Like every sport, table tennis can be played recreationally or very, very competitively. From your own basement to the Olympics, it has grown into one of the most popular sports in the world. And, like every other sport, it takes hard work and practice in order to be the best.
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