THE BIGGEST PINGPONG COMPETITIONS WORLDWIDE
Table tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world; it’s played by young children to people in extreme old age, fit and unfit, fat and thin, amateur and professional, so it’s no surprise that there are 222 governing bodies around the world. Table tennis had its roots in Victorian England and was played by the upper classes after dinner and by military officers of the British Army in India, who played on a dinner table with a row of books for a net and books for paddles. It soon spread and became a popular game with its own specialist equipment, however.
When we talk about Championships the obvious ones that spring to mind is World Table Tennis Championship, the Table tennis World Cup, the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games. The first Table Tennis World Championship was held in 1926 in London and won by the Hungarian Roland Jacobi. It only became an Olympic Sport in 1988 and was won by Yoo Nam Kyu from South Korea.
The World Table Tennis Championships, established in 1926, have been played every two years since 1957. Men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles are played every odd-numbered year. The World Team Table Tennis Championships introduced their own tournament in 2000 which is held in every even-numbered year (how considerate of them!) At the moment the Chinese are far and away the best players, with their men’s team having won a whopping 60% of their titles since 1959. Their women’s team have won all but three since 1971.
The Olympics is held only every four years, of course, with the next tournament being held this year in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
The Commonwealth Games also feature prominently. Frequently called “the Friendly Games”, they are held every four years in the second year after leap year I.E. 2002, 2006, 2010. In 2014 they were held in Glasgow, Scotland, which hosted them for the first time. In 2018 it will be on the Gold Coast, Australia, and in 2022 in Durban, South Africa.
There are 71 countries who are eligible to take part in the Commonwealth Games, all members of the former British Empire.
The ITTF Tour Takes place all around the world. In fact, if you stick a pin in a calendar you’ll find that there’s a tournament somewhere!
The professional game is also thriving at clubs, where there are many national leagues, not only in China which has the China Table Tennis Super League. There are European countries too, such as Germany, France, Austria and Belgium who play at a very high standard, and continental competitions such as the European Champions League and the former European Club Cup, where the cream of clubs from all over the continent play.
In short, if there is a sport which could be said to be universal, it must be table tennis (or ping pong if you prefer, but don’t let a pro hear you say that!) It’s a good cardiovascular workout and is easy on the joints and muscles. It’s played by professional sports players in their off seasons. What more could you ask?