Australia and Olympic Table Tennis
Australia has been represented at every Olympic Games since the sport began in 1988 but has never won a table tennis medal in Olympic competition.
At Sydney 2000 in front of a home crowd, Australia’s Miao Miao and Shirley Zhou combined in the women’s doubles to place fifth out of 34 teams, Australia’s best result in Olympic table tennis.
William Henzell, competing at his third Games at London, matched the best ever result by an Australian having knocked off a number of higher ranked opponents as he progressed through to the quarter-finals.
The Rio 2016 Games saw six Australians line up in the green and gold as both Jian Fang Lay and Melissa Tapper made history. Lay became one of only three Australian women to have now competed at five Olympic Games while Tapper became the nation's first Paralympian to also compete at an Olympics. Lay was Australia's only singles player to score a win at Rio, progressing through to the third round, while both the men's and women's teams went down in the opening round of the competition against top 8 ranked sides.
Table tennis became an Olympic sport in Seoul 1988. With more than 40 million players worldwide, table tennis has the largest player-base of any sport. The Chinese have been the most dominant players for the last 45 years and throughout Olympic competition. Since 1988, China has won 20 of the 24 gold medals awarded. At their home Games in 2008 they made a clean sweep of all four events.
For Beijing the doubles were replaced by the team events, intended to provide more appeal to audiences around the world.
There are four Olympic table tennis competitions: men’s singles and teams and women’s singles and teams. The maximum number of players who can take part are 86 men and 86 women - with not more than three men and three women from each National Olympic Committee.
In singles all events follow a knockout (single elimination) format with each match consists of the best four out of seven games to at least 11 points, where the winner must win by at least two points. Players have two serves in a row, except when the points score reaches 10 all, after which the serve alternates each point at the end of each set the players will swap sides.
A team match at the Olympic competition is called a “contest”. Each contest consists of four singles matches and one doubles match. All singles matches and doubles match in a contest are the best of five, with no other differences from men’s and women’s singles event.
The teams competition is held in 2 stages. The first stage is group round robin; the second stage is knock-out. In the first stage, the 16 participating teams will be divided into four groups. The group round robin system will be used to decide the places in each group. In the second stage, the winning teams of each group shall play-off, in a knockout semi-final format for the gold and silver medals. The second placed teams of each group and the semi-final contest losers shall play-off for the bronze medal.
One Minute, One Sport | Table Tennis
Video courtesy of tokyo2020.org / olympicchannel.com