Updated: 25/07/2012 10:14 | By pa.press.net

TABLE TENNIS



Table Tennis

Table tennis is played by more than 40 million people, making it the world's most participated sport.

Originally developed as a game to entertain the English upper classes in the 19th century, it has come a long way since those humble beginnings and is now enjoyed in countries across the globe.

With the Asian nations having taken it to their hearts in particular, it is no surprise that China has dominated both the men's and women's table tennis competition at the Olympics since the sport first appeared at the Games at Seoul 1988.

China has won 41 medals prior to London 2012, becoming the most successful table tennis nation.

There are four medal events competed at the Olympics, with men and women playing in singles as well as team events, which replaced the doubles competition at Beijing 2008.

The game is based on the same basic principles as tennis, with the aim being to try and prevent an opponent from being able to return the ball over the net and onto your half of the table.

One big difference is that the server must ensure that the ball bounces on their own half of the table before going over the net in order to start a rally.

The scoring system for all table tennis matches is the same, with the first player to reach 11 points winning a game, provided they do so by two clear points.

Singles matches are played over the best of seven games, while in the team competition matches are played as a best of five. The team event comprises four singles matches and one doubles game.

There is a one-minute break between games while players change ends, with each player also allowed to take a one-minute timeout once per match.

All table tennis competitions at the Olympics run on a straight knockout basis, with the top players seeded to avoid playing each other until the later stages.

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