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The World Table Tennis Day is celebrated on 6th April every year. This day was created in the year 2015 by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) to promote and encourage people around the world to take up the sport.

On the occasion of World Table Tennis Day, we take a look at the rules of the game, the history at the Olympics and India’s achievements in sports:

Rules for table tennis

  • A game of table tennis usually consists of five or seven games.
  • Each game is of 11 points. To win a game, the players must win with 2 points.
  • Both players serve alternately after two runs have been scored. But if the match is tied to a ‘deuce’, the players take turns serving on each point scored.
  • When serving in table tennis, the ball must be thrown at least 6 inches (15 cm) straight up, from a straight palm.
  • While serving, the player’s contact with the ball must be behind the table and not above it.
  • The player cannot hide the ball from any part of the body once it has been thrown into the air before being served.
  • The player loses the point if he / she does not touch the ball after it has been thrown into the air to serve.
  • If the ball hits the net during a service, it is called Let and the point is replayed. There are no deductions or restrictions on a late serve.
  • While serving, the ball must first land on your side of the table before it lands on the opponent’s side.
  • In singles, there are no restrictions on where the ball lands on the opponent’s side during a serve, while in doubles, the service must land first on the right side of the serve and then on the right side of the opponent’s table .
  • In doubles, both partners must hit the ball alternately, regardless of where the ball lands on the table.
  • No player can touch the ball before it bounces once on his or her side of the table.
  • The player can touch the ball with the hand he / she is holding the paddle, but touching the ball with the other hand earns an opponent a point.
  • The table tennis paddle must be colored black on one side.
  • The ball used in a table tennis match must be 40mm + plastic.
  • 9ft long, 5ft wide, 2.5ft high These are the officially approved dimensions of a table.
  • The approved height of a table tennis net is 15 cm.

History of table tennis at the Olympic Games

Table tennis at the 1988 Olympics

Table tennis was first played in the Olympics at the 1988 Seoul Games with singles and doubles for both men and women. It was never played as a demonstration sport in the Olympics.

Since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, table tennis has been held in the men’s and women’s singles and teams category. The upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics will witness mixed doubles in table tennis for the first time.

Since the inception of table tennis in the Olympics, China has dominated it. Over the years, the Asian country has won a total of 53 medals in the Olympic Games in sports. South Korea is the second best table tennis country in the Olympics with 18 medals, while Germany rounds out the top three with 7 medals.

Indian milestones

2006 CWG: Sensational Sharath

A 6-foot 2-inch lanky paddler from Tamil Nadu announced his arrival on the international circuit in the early 2000s and soon the world was glimpsed into the skills the then ‘legend in the making’ of India had acquired. Achanta Sharath Kamal took gold at the 2004 Commonwealth TT Championship and also made his first Olympic appearance that same year. Two years later, Sharath etched his name in history books and wrote a new chapter in the Indian TT when he outclassed local Melbourne favorite William Henzell and became the first Indian paddler to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. India’s current top-ranked paddler Sharath, who has a record nine national titles to his name, has eagerly prepared to produce a memorable show at his fourth Olympics at the Tokyo Games.

UTT and TTFI prescribe a new era

The strong domestic initiatives of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) were given new impetus when Vita Dani and Niraj Bajaj founded Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) in 2017. UTT ushered in a new era for sports and strengthened the ecosystem with a well-connected soil. up approach that connects the grassroots with the existing TTFI initiatives, while simultaneously introducing a world-class annual competition tournament. UTT has also provided a much-needed global platform where Indian players gain maximum international exposure, putting their shoulders under the best in the world. The first edition of the competition saw current Indian stars Manika Batra and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan announce their arrival on the big stage with breathtaking performances, while the next two seasons also witnessed the rise of young and emerging players such as Sutirtha Mukherjee, Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath. The competition has documented some of the world’s best players in action and how India has become a TT destination for these players. UTT partners with TTFI and also focuses on grassroots development including supporting academies, organizing school citizens and becoming a strong stakeholder for all major TT events.

2018 CWG: Manika’s magic show

The 2018 Commonwealth Games was the most successful edition in the history of the Indian TT as the contingent finished its campaign at No. 1 with three gold, two silver and three bronze medals. The main highlight of the team, however, was the emergence of star paddler Manika Batra who produced a magical show in Gold Coast. With a win against Yu Mengyu from Singapore, Batra became the first Indian female paddler to earn the gold medal at CWG. She also led the women’s team to a historic gold medal triumph, taking silver and bronze in the women’s and mixed doubles categories respectively to end her campaign at a peak.

History in Jakarta

Fresh off the exploits at Gold Coast CWG, a few months later Indian TT saw another brilliant chapter added to the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. This time, a team made up of Achanta Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan and Anthony Amalraj gave the country its first-ever TT medal at the second-largest sporting event in the world after the Olympics. Although the Indian team lost to South Korea with three men in the semi-finals, they won a bronze medal. Sharath later teamed up with Manika Batra when the duo added another bronze to the country’s medal tier with a mixed doubles semifinal.

4 paddlers at the Tokyo Olympics

At the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, four Indians, Achanta Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee, would compete for the highest honor. While all four would compete in the singles category, the duo of Sharath and Manika would also be seen in mixed doubles.

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