In the world of table tennis, Asian players have been the dominant community with respect to winning tournaments and skills. The game was first invented in England and was popularly regarded as Ping Pong in the 1890s.
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Top 5 Greatest Table Tennis Players
If you are looking for inspiration, you have come to the right place. These are some of the greatest players that we have had in the past. Know more about them here including their signature moves, style of their game performance, and awards and records.
1. Jan-Ove Waldner
There is no better way to start off with this list other than this Swedish former sportsman, Jan-Ove Waldner. Popularly known as the Mozart of table tennis, he was one of the most popular players of his time and was equally famous in both his native country as well as in China. So much so that he was called Evergreen Tree by the Chinese nationals.
He had a successful as well as an unusual career wherein he consistently overplayed the strong upcoming players who were training under his contemporaries. After table tennis made its debut in the year 1988 in Seoul, Waldner went on to win a gold medal in 1992 and a silver in 2000.
All in all, he successfully reserved five gold, three silver, and 2 bronze medals in his entire career in the European championships. Over his lifetime till the present, he has been the only one who does not have an Asian descent to have won a gold medal in the Olympic Games.
2. Deng Yaping
If you follow table tennis, this name should be very familiar. Not because she changed the face of table tennis in so many different ways, but she still remains to be instrumental when it comes to table tennis in her native country, that is, China.
From being a gold medalist in both singles and doubles back in the 1992 Olympics in Spain, Barcelona, she successfully topped the charts as the No. 1 ranked female tennis player for eight consecutive years.
She retired from the game when she was just 24 and entered the national table tennis realm of her country. Apart from sports, she also received a Ph.D. degree from the prestigious University of Cambridge on her thesis submission, titled, The Impact of the Olympic Games on Chinese Development: A Multi-Disciplinary Analysis.
3. Guo Yue
A Chinese national, Guo Yue is probably one of the greatest ever not just within the women’s category but in general despite her gender. She is popularly known for her left-handed shakehand attack while she was in the prime of her career.
Like most players, it was not easy for her in the beginning, and was subjected to a long episode of not winning in the international forum of the game. However, she returned with a bang and managed to bag two Olympic gold medals and two bronzes in her entire career.
2008 was the top year for Guo since she not only bagged a bronze in the Beijing Olympics but made history by becoming the winner of the Asian Cup the same year. She was also the world champion in the women’s category in 2007.
However, she invited bad press because of her misconduct and poor behaviour while playing the game. She gradually lost interest in the game due to which she lost her position in the national team. Post this, she went to pursue education in the field of Finance in China.
4. Ma Long
What can we say about this man, though? He is definitely one of the greatest ever and we have been very fortunate to watch him play in our lives. Born in the late 1980s, the young Chinese player who is merely 33 years old currently, turned all the tables to his side when he became the World Junior Champion in 2004 as well as the gold medalist in the Asian Games 2010.
This right-handed shakehand grip player earned a much deserving nickname of The Dictator and The Dragon for his exceptional skills and winning streak of 35 sets in a row!
Furthermore, apart from being ranked in third position right now, he only managed to win gold medals only in the Olympics in both singles and doubles. If we consider all the players that have made it in the international category of playing the game, he is the fifth one to win the Olympics, World Championships, as well as the World Cup in a single year!
5. Wang Liqin
We end this article with another Chinese table tennis legend, Wang Liqin. He was often known for changing his paddle very often and has used over ten different types of brands and models. He was at the top of his game and was the second one to maintain the No. 1 ranking for twenty-five consecutive months from 2004 to 2006, after Ma Long’s No. 1 world ranking for thirty consecutive months!
Out of all his best games, he is particularly praised for his forehand dominated style alongside his backhand loop. This he did to open a topspin rally. Apart from this, he gracefully retired in the year 2013 after having a long successful international career that began in the year 1993 when he was just 15!
Why is it important to know about former players is because they were instrumental which led the evolution of the game and are in the position that it is right now. A game that was invented in England, taken up by players from all over the world, and adding athleticism and further refinement to the game made the sport the way it exists today. Newer generations will always up the game, but that is how new bars are set. Learning about former players is equivalent to learning the evolution of the game.