Hey, beer pong fans, your kind has an event at the 2012 London Olympics -- well, not exactly. If you have been enthralled with the table tennis showdowns since the 1988 Olympics, look forward to another glimpse at this world championship treat.
No, you are not going to see the winners of the 2012 World Beer Pong Championships that took place in Las Vegas in January. Instead, the athletes that are showing up for the London Games are in a league of their own. Local beer pong champs, take note -- watching the table tennis events at the Olympics means gaining the chance to have an ancestral edge to your game. For tennis and badminton fans, there is a lot of love for you in Olympic table tennis too.
If you are new to table tennis, the list below profiles the top 10 things you need to know to enjoy the competitions broadcasting on NBC starting July 27, 2012.
1. U.S. players to watch: Timothy Wang, Lily Zhang, Ariel Hsing, Erica Wu
2. Top International players to watch: Zhang Jike (China), Chuan Chih-Yuan (Taipei), Wang Hao (China), Timo Boll (Germany), Dimitrij Ovtcharov (Germany), Hugo Hoyama (Brazil), Li Xiaoxia (China), Vladimir Samsonov (Belarus), Guo Yan (China), Jun Mizutani (Japan)
3. Countries with the most gold medals: China (20), South Korea (3), Sweden (1)
4. Countries with a historic presence in Olympic table tennis: China, South Korea, Sweden, Germany, DPR Korea, Chinese Taipei, France, Yugoslavia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Denmark
5. Table tennis singles scoring crash course: The important thing to remember is that the first player of each match that gets to 11 (10-10 tie margin of 2) wins.
6. Table tennis team scoring made simple: The NBC Olympics website states, "Team matches consist of four singles matches and one doubles match, each played over the best of five games." For all of you visual learners that have trouble making sense of this, just keep in mind that when you are watching the table tennis matches, the commentators will help the rules fall into place.
7. Differences between table tennis and ping pong: Using EtymOnline.com as a resource, it soon becomes clear why everyone has heard of ping pong, but few have heard of table tennis. As it appears, Ping-Pong is a 1900 registered trademark of Parker Brothers for their table tennis line. The name is based on the sound the ball makes when it hits the table and has been used figuratively since the early 1950s.
8. Governing body of table tennis: For table tennis fans of all types, staying in touch with the sport between Olympics can be accomplished through the International Table Tennis Federation. Since 1926, this Swiss-based organization features international table tennis athletes, the Olympics, and is the regulating body of all professional matches.
9. The evolution of table tennis: According to "Sports Around the World: History, Culture, and Practice," by John Nauright and Charles Parrish, the timeline of sports that includes table tennis is: real tennis (medieval indoor), badminton, jeu de paume, lawn tennis, table tennis/ping pong, Beirut/beer pong, beer-less beer pong.
10. Weird fact about 2012 Table Tennis Olympics: Women's Rights history is about to close a chapter and table tennis at the Olympics will become part of that footnote. Along with Saudi Arabia and Brunei, Qatar's Aia Mohamed is a table tennis champ among a small group of women that are the final pearls on the string that completes the gender gap at the Olympics for the first time in history.
More from this Contributor:
Maryam Louise won ribbons throughout her teens in ping pong, badminton, and lawn tennis. 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.