Near the OCBC arena in Singapore, young girls had their faces painted and posters made at home in support of their favorite players. Dozens of people lined up to take a photo with a poster of the world champion.
The cream of the world’s table tennis gathered in Singapore from December 4-7 for the first season closing tournament of the World Table Tennis (WTT). The excitement was reminiscent of the pre-game atmosphere at the Bell Center.
Table tennis has become a sport event in recent years. A pyrotechnic show accompanies the entry of the players onto the field.
Chinese domination continues
The crowd was lined up behind the big Chinese stars. Between each point, the cries of encouragement – ” jiāyóu! (“Come on!” In Mandarin) – were deafening.
In true table tennis tradition, three of the four finalists for men and women in Singapore were Chinese. Their dominance is unparalleled.
China has won 18 of the last 24 Olympic medals in individual events at the Olympics since 2008 in Beijing as well as gold medals in team competition at each Olympiad, for women and men.
Ping-pong has been part of the culture in China since Mao Zedong made it the national sport.
Table tennis is the first sport that produced a Chinese world championhistorian Pete Millwood of the University of Hong Kong recently told NBC.
Rong Guotan won gold at the 1959 world championships in West Germany.
Table tennis remains a bridge between Chinese generations today even though soccer and football are more popular among teenagers today.
A young generation threatens Chinese hegemony. In addition to the rise of Japan, Brazilian, Swedish and Korean players can claim certain titles.
The diplomacy of ping-pong 50 years later
The World Table Tennis Championships took place for the first time on American soil, in Houston at the end of November. The symbolic event marked 50 years of ping-pong diplomacy between China and the United States. Table tennis players had then brought the two countries together in cold weather.
The mixed pair made up of a Chinese player and an American table tennis player won the bronze medal in Houston.
But the tournament on American soil, like the one in Singapore, above all demonstrated the modernization of table tennis. TheWTT was created two years ago on the model of ATP and WTA in tennis to accelerate this transformation.
Our industry is huge with casual players all over the world following our tournaments, explained the general manager of the International Table Tennis Federation, Steve Dainton.
The growth potential is in the billions of dollars for us.
The purses for players are now more generous (total purses of US $ 600,000 at the Singapore tournament, for example). Television production is now more polished and broadcast in more than 200 countries.
After shortening the games from 21 to 11 points a few years ago and changing other rules to promote exchanges, table tennis now wants to establish itself among the elite professional sports.