Are we talking about Ping-Pong? Or maybe “wiff-waff,” the original term it was given in the 1880′s in London when it was created? Either way, it’s up there in the category of “garage games” that you’re either good, at or can’t hold a flame to. But now is the time to get excited. In just a few days, table tennis will take a global spot light (for those who tune in) during the 2012 Olympics in London. If you’re paying attention, you might be able to see the 40mm orange ball as it flies by at up to 120kph.
On this years US Olympic team, look for names such as Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, Erica Wu, and Timothy Wang. Doesn’t seem that big, huh? It’s not. The real heat comes from the far east and Europe where the sport is taken much more seriously.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have a chance. Until the games begin, lets take a look back at some of the names that Google more easily recognizes.
This year, 47-year old Kim Gilbert took a stab at coming back into the game after years of retirement. At one point, Gilbert was one of the most recognized names in the sport. She routinely beat male competitors and already held victories in US Open and Olympic Festival tournaments. Her resume from 1981 even included junior, state, and national level championships. This was all until she slipped off a curb in Santa Monica wearing high heels and breaking her forearm in 14 places. Her attempt this year didn’t cut it to place her in the Olympic runnings, but damn if she didn’t try!
Arielle Hsing, part of the 2012 US Olympic Team. We’re crossing our fingers for you.
Dorothy DeLow (101) from Australia, is the oldest competitive player in the world. She left the UK on a Sydney bound boat in 1911 when she was two, around the same time that the sport was claimed to be invented. Dorothy regularly quotes, “You’re never too old.”
Les D’Arcy (90) of the United Kingdom used to hold a weekly slot on a local UK radio station reporting Table Tennis news including a span during the 1990′s when 8 table tennis players died during competitions. Les also competes in triathlons, weightlifting, and shot-putting, and had nothing to do with the eight deaths.
Robert Redford and Paul Newman were known to frequently play the sport together during parties. Whether they won or not has not been documented.
Master stroke Viktor Barna displays his famous flying defence to trainees in Madras.
President Obama is said to have a mean forehand.
Marty Resiman dominates at classic hardbat ping-pong. If you’re used to playing in a low-lit basement with only one ball, hardbat ping-pong is more than likely what you’re used to. Marty calls this “the witty game,” where grandmasters set up their winning shots several moves in advance.
And then lastly, there’s Zhang Jike, the number one ranked player in the world. Keep an eye out for him this year in London.
If none of this has gotten you excited for the sport, then August 16th should, when we hold the first annual Table Tennis Championship in the store. Still interested? Keep an eye on the blog for details to come soon.