Dates: August 6 – August 17, 2016 Competitors: 172
The high speed power game of Olympic table tennis is not the friendly game of ping pong you probably play at home.
The lightening quick volleys and the seemingly miraculous eye-hand coordination it takes to compete? It's level of sophistication that amateur players can only hope to achieve after rigorous years of practice.
With the sport's wide popularity today, it's surprising to discover that table tennis only became a recognized Olympic event during the Seoul Games in 1988. Since then, it has amassed a worldwide TV audience of millions -- especially in Asia, where most of the world's top players are based.
Just up ahead, check out information and fun facts about the lightning fast, action-packed sport of Olympic table tennis, along with related resources incuding at top sites offering more facts, information, updates, pictures, and video reports as the 2016 Summer Games draw near...
Olympic table tennis fun facts
Mao, an early fan.
• Table tennis originated as an English parlor game in Victorian England by the upper classes. As the story goes, the first ping pong balls were fashioned from champagne corks.
• Ping pong was brought to Japan from a traveler who had visited the UK in the early 20th century. It was later adopted by China, and Chinese leader Mao Zedong became a big fan.
• The Chinese have dominated Olympic table tennis since it was first introduced at the Seoul Games in 1988. At the London Games in 2012 they took every medal.
• The only non-Asian player to ever have taken Olympic gold medal in table tennis? That was Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner won the men’s singles title at the Barcelona Games in 1992.
• Besides ping pong, other names for table tennis are 'whiff waff' and 'flim flam' for the sound of the ball as it leaves the racket and hits the table.
More information on Olympic table tennis around the Web:
International Olympic Committee - Table Tennis - The history of the sport, technical details and more about how to play table tennis from the home of the Olympics movement. Check the players profiles on the right hand side for the names to watch for during the games.
USA Table Tennis - The home site of the US national governing body for the Olympic sport of table tennis in the United States.
BBC Olympics - Table Tennis - News & updates on major teams, star athlete profiles, with related articles on the history and technical details.