This will be Sharath Kamal’s fourth Olympic Games which will be an Indian record. Sharath and Manika made it to the Olympics based on their rankings, while Sathiyan and Sutrita secured tickets to Tokyo through the Asian Qualifiers in Doha in March. Sharath and Manika will also present their challenge in mixed doubles.
Table tennis had to wait a long time to make it to the Olympics. The men’s and women’s singles and doubles events were held for the first time at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the team event was replaced by doubles. A new mixed doubles event has been added to the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
India has fielded players in table tennis in every Games since 1988 Seoul to 2016 Rio Olympics but is still waiting for the first medal. Kamlesh Mehta and Sujoy Ghorpade represented India in the men’s section and Niyati Rai Shah in the women’s section at the Seoul Olympics. Four years later, Kamlesh Mehta finished joint 17th at the Barcelona Olympics, which is the best performance by an Indian in singles.
Chetan Babur and Sharath Kamal have so far participated in three Olympics each. Among women, Niyati Roy and Mouma Das have participated in two Olympics each, but due to only a few qualifying players, India has not been able to participate in the team event in the Olympics yet. However, he competed in men’s doubles three times in 1988, 1992 and 2000.
The father of table tennis is England and initially it was limited to Europe but with the passage of time it became dominated by Asian countries especially China. China has so far won 53 medals in the Olympic Games including 28 gold, 17 silver and eight bronze medals.
The kingship of China can be gauged from the fact that apart from him, only South Korea (three gold) and Sweden (one gold) have won gold medals in Olympic table tennis. Three women players from China, Wang Nan, Deng Yiping and Zhyang Yingying, have won four gold medals each in the Olympics. In the men’s section also, China’s Wang Hao is at the fore, who has won two gold and three silver medals.
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