Table tennis, which is also known as ping-pong, is a two or four player sport which is played indoors. Table tennis equipment includes a ping-pong ball, table tennis paddles and a table tennis table. It has been a sport played in the Summer Olympics since 1988.
The rules of table tennis
Description of the game
Table tennis takes places on a hard table, with a net separating each half of the table. Objective
The aim of the game is to hit a ping-pong ball back and forth until a player wins the point. Winning
The end of a point can come as a result of a player hitting the ball into the net, or a player failing to return the ping-pong ball to the other side of the table. Unlike the rest of a point, a table-tennis serve must hit both sides of the table before the ball is deemed in play. Serve alternates every two points.
A game of table tennis is won when one player or team reaches 11 points. However, a game must be won by two clear points so if the scores reach 10-10, the game will continue until that is achieved. This also results in a slight change in the service rules - serve alternates every point during a tie-break.
Table tennis in the Olympics
Table Tennis has been played at the Olympics since 1988, where men and women have competed in singles and doubles events. Leading country in this game
Since its introduction to the Olympics, China has dominated the sport, winning a total of 20 gold medals. A change in the rules
Because of China's dominance, the rules of Olympic Table tennis were changed in 2004. Competitors were divided into separate groups to ensure that the same country could not take all three places on the medal rostrum. There was another rule change for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where the doubles event were scraped and replaced by a team event. Future Olympics games
The London 2012 Olympics will see 172 players compete in four table tennis events. China are the defending champions in all four disciplines after their success at Beijing. Rules for player qualification
To qualify for 2012, players must be ranked in the top 28 of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) list on 15.05.2011. However, only two players are allowed per country, which may mean the players outside the ranking list may still qualify for the games. Further continental qualification events will be played over the course of 2011 and 2012 to determine 40 more places, with one place per gender being awarded by the ITTF to complete the list of competitors.