Sure, some events at the London Olympics are more popular with Americans than others. In the U.S., we have the ability to pick and choose favorites due to the fact that we have top athletes in all 39 events.
However, what if you were from a country that only had a few athletes to send to the Olympics -- and most of them were participating in table tennis?
Who has the most Table Tennis presence?
While some countries are sending one or two representatives to the table tennis London Olympics events, other countries are sending as many as six. If we are going to see multiple gold medals at the London Games, the numbers game tells us some are more likely to accomplish this than others.
Is there a magic number of players that can participate at the Olympic table tennis events? The International Table Tennis Federation states that the Olympics caps participation at six athletes per country. Altogether, there are 12 countries that are sending their maximum allotment of table tennis athletes. A complete list from the NBCOlympics.com website includes Singapore, Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, South Korea, Egypt, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Japan, North Korea.
For the record, America is only sending four table tennis Olympians.
Few athletes; but the most table tennis spirit
Defining team spirit can take the shape of fan websites, the large number of athletes sent to the Olympics, a supporter group, or promotions. On the other hand, there are some countries that are sending one or two table tennis Olympians, but they are only participating in a few events overall.
For those countries, by sending less than 10 participants to the Olympics divided up over a few events, they are putting most of their gold-medal hopes into a few athletes. American table tennis Olympic athletes can easily get lost in the 300+ Team USA crowd. However, on a home country stage with five athletes or less, the table tennis representatives from places with fewer Olympic athletes are revered as super stars.
Below, the countries that have all of their citizens looking up to only a few Olympic athletes are as follows:
Congo - 3 events, 7 total athletes, 3 table tennis athletes
Djibouti - 4 events, 6 total athletes, 1 table tennis athlete
Lebanon - 7 events, 11 total athletes, 1 table tennis athlete
Kuwait - 4 events, 12 total athletes, 1 table tennis athlete
Luxembourg - 7 events, 9 total athletes, 1 table tennis athlete
Paraguay - 6 events, 8 total athletes, 2 table tennis athlete
Togo - 5 events, 6 total athletes, 1 table tennis athlete
Qatar - 4 events, 12 total athletes, 1 table tennis athlete
Vanuatu - 3 events, 5 total athletes, 2 table tennis athlete
Table tennis country with the biggest potential audience
Without a doubt, the number crunching for events at the 2012 London Games reveals that three countries have the most faith in table tennis. Congo and Paraguay definitely have a larger emphasis on table tennis than other countries with less than eight athletes overall but two to three table tennis athletes each.
However, considering that the Island of Vanuatu has only five athletes and two of them are in table tennis events, it is safe to assume that this Olympic underdog may have the most captivated country-wide table tennis audience in the world. To stay in touch with Vanuatu's Olympic dream and upcoming wins, like the Facebook page for the International Table Tennis Federation - Oceania.
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Maryam Louise has won first-prize ribbons for amateur team participation in ping pong, badminton, lawn tennis, and table tennis. For the 2012 Olympics, Louise is closely following table tennis stars Aia Mohamed and Anolyn Lulu. Currently, she is moving in a Paralympics direction by embracing products similar to the American Printing House for the Blinds's 30-Love Tennis Kit for the visually impaired. Her other interests in Middle Eastern sports traditions, sports and gender, horse racing, and weird sports are reflected through her freelance writing with Yahoo! and KentuckyDerby.org.