In This Chapter

Table tennis

Authored by: Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu

Routledge Handbook of Global Sport

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  January  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138887237
eBook ISBN: 9781315714264
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter introduces the history and development of the sport table tennis, as well as its differences than the game ping pong. Table tennis was first invented in England in the 1890s and became a competitive sport when Ivor Montagu found the English Table Tennis Association in 1923 and the International Table Tennis Association in 1926. While Hungary won most of the World Championships titles before the Second World War, Asian countries began to gain competitiveness. China started dominating the sport in the 1950s upon having their first world champion Rong Guotuan, followed by a three-time champion Zhuang Zedong who played an important role in facilitating the ping-pong diplomacy between China and the US As China’s national sport, table tennis was often used to build political relations with the principle “Friendship First.” Table tennis became an Olympic sport in 1988 and went through a number of rule changes, although China still maintained its dominance across men’s and women’s events. Thus far, only one non-Chinese – the Swedish Jan-Ove Waldner – has won a grand slam title. In terms of participation, table tennis has been a universal and inclusive sport across gender, countries, social classes, and ability levels due to the ITTF’s efforts.

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