Last Updated on June 21, 2022 by Sorin Petroj
After doing some research, we came up with the top 3 strongest countries in table tennis: China, Japan, and Germany. This article aims to shed light on the most popular countries in table tennis, showing their achievements and spectacular players through time.
- Why is China the best at table tennis?
- Why is table tennis so popular in Asia?
- Which country dominates the Olympics?
Here is a closer look at why these countries are so strong in table tennis.
China has been winning in table tennis competitions since the 1950s in the Summer Olympics. It is the top country, or rather, the strongest state in table tennis.
China is ranked number one by ITTF. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China emerged as the winner of all six medals. During the first-ever Olympic Games in Seoul, China took home 53 medals; 28 gold, 17 silver, and 8 bronze. They made a good start and have managed to maintain the top position for many years.
China also won all the Gold medals in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, Beijing Olympics in 2008, London Olympics in 2012, and Rio in 2016. Based on the current ranking results, China has won 85.7% of the gold medals in table tennis. That is why they are considered the champions.
Many remarkable and talented Chinese players have managed to put the country in the limelight. One of them is Deng Yaping, who won both singles and doubles securing gold medals at the 1992 Olympics. She also hit the same milestone at the 1996 Olympics. Yaping is the first Chinese athlete to win 4 Olympic table tennis gold medals.
Statistics show that nearly 1% (0.72%) of the 1.4 billion population of Chinese play table tennis occasionally. Being part of ITTF, China has the most number of players practicing table tennis. The top 3 players in the world are all Chinese. They are Fan Zhendong, Ma Long, and Xu Xin.
Grand Slam Winners
According to ITTF regulations, for a player to secure the grand slam title, they must have won a gold medal in an Olympic Game, World Cup table tennis, and a World Table Tennis Championship (WTTC). A double grand slam is when a player wins the grand slam twice.
Similarly, Zhang Yining is the only double grand slam winner for the female players. Only 10 players have achieved the grand slam title till today, of which 9 are Chinese players.
The country also has very strong national ladies’ and men’s teams. The men’s team has won the singles championship in the Olympic Games 6 times in history, breaking the record. It was formed in 1952, and it officially represented the country in international competitions.
The ladies’ national team won all the women’s singles championships of the WTTC from 1971 to 1989. They also set a record for the most consecutively won women’s championships from the 33rd to the 40th WTTC.
China is also well-known for its best table tennis coaches. They have immense knowledge and skills in table tennis, and they have been training some of the best players in China. With no doubt that the country has truly invested in table tennis. China is still hitting more milestones today than ever in the table tennis world.
Japan is the second-best country in table tennis all over the world. This is according to the ITTF ranking list produced as of 2021. Japan has so far won 4 Olympic medals in the Summer Olympics up to today. This includes 2 silver medals and 2 bronze medals.
Likewise, Japan won 3 out of 4 medals in the Rio Olympics. Besides that, Japan is renowned for its commendable professional league all over the globe. It contains some famous Japanese table tennis players who have helped maintain the country at the top rank for quite some time.
These players include Mima Ito, Miu Hirano, and Kasumi Ishikawa as female players and Koki Niwa, Jun Mizutani, and Tomokazu Harimoto as male players. Jun won the country’s first Olympic medal in singles by securing the bronze medal, beating Vladimir Samsonov (a dangerous Belarus player) 4-1 in Rio Olympics.
Japan won its first men’s team Olympic medal in 2016, where the team secured a silver medal. A deadly mixed double combination of Mima and Jun defeated for the first time a Chinese double of Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen.
One of the strongest ladies’ table tennis countries
This caused people to believe in Japan and rank it among the strongest countries in table tennis. The popular Mizutani has won 7 double table tennis titles, thus being a talented and highly skilled Japanese player.
Another piece of evidence showing that Japan is one of the most popular countries in table tennis is a poll conducted by Japanese media professional Asahi Shimbun. The poll states the most memorable events for the Japanese during the Tokyo Olympic Games. Many people commented that it was the table tennis mixed doubles finals in which Jun and Mima won.
This survey shows that many Japanese have a dying interest in table tennis. They prefer to watch Olympic Games and World Championships or take an active part by playing. They are always cheering on players who represent their country enthusiastically. In this poll, more than 17% of Japanese ranked table tennis as their most popular sport.
Koki Niwa is the country’s greatest player. He enabled the country to win a gold medal at the 2010 Youth Olympics. He also won the World Junior Table Tennis Championships in 2010 for the doubles title and in 2011 for the singles title.
Japan also has many rising stars, which continually take the country to greater heights.
Germany is ranked the third-best country in table tennis worldwide by the ITTF. The ranking is according to the total number of medals that the country has won since table tennis became a popularly played game worldwide. Here is a table that shows the medals the country has won over the years and its rank.
We will break down some of the country’s wins and achievements based on individual table tennis players’ and group/ team achievements. These players’ achievements put the country on the rank among the best and most popular countries in table tennis.
Germany has won 7 Olympic medals, including three silver and four bronze medals in the Summer Olympics. The country won its first Olympic medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, a silver medal in men’s doubles.
It also produced some famous table tennis players who are considered the best in the country. Some of them include Timo Boll, Jörg Rosskopf and Dimitrij Ovtcharov. They’ve represented Germany in many table tennis Olympic and World Championship games and brought the victory home.
Jörg and Dimitrij are the only male table tennis players who ever won an Olympic medal in singles in Germany. Jörg won a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, whereas Dimitrij won a bronze medal in the London Olympics.
In 1989, Rosskopf and Steffen Fetzner won the World Championship in doubles putting the country at the top again. Since then, table tennis sport has gained so much popularity and dominance in Germany.
Timo Boll – Best German Table Tennis Player Ever
Timo Boll once became the best German table tennis player. He was ranked second in the German Table Tennis National League and 10th in the ITTF world championships in July 2021.
He has proved to be the Greatest Table Tennis Player of All Time for Germany, ranking world number 1 in 2003, 2011, and March 2018. Boll currently plays for the Borussia Düsseldorf club.
The first European Championship occurred in 1958 when Germany emerged second, winning silver in the competition. The men’s national team brought silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and bronze at the 2012 London and Rio Olympics.
Germany literary dominated the top positions in table tennis Championships, and Olympic Games as the men’s team helped the country maintain the top positions.
Germany’s women’s team clinched its first Olympic medal, a silver one, at the 2016 Rio Olympics. They have also been making big wins over the years because of the highly skilled women players it carries.
Today, Germany is still showing potential for excellence in table tennis sport. They have young and professional players who are believed to take the country to a higher level.
An example is a player by the name of Kay Stumper. Kay was born on 15th October 2002 and began playing table tennis at a very tender age (3 years). He is privileged to have German Premium League athletes as parents who have been training him.
Kay Stumper – The young hope of German table tennis
He also won the Europe Youth Top 10 for juniors as part of the German youth squad in 2018 and 2019. Stumper is not the only one who will keep Germany at the top of the rank. Other upcoming players will maintain the country at the top and among the strongest countries in table tennis.
Strongest Countries in Table Tennis – History
Table tennis was invented in England in the early 20th century. It was majorly known as ping pong. Ping pong is still in use today, but the name table tennis was adopted in 1921-1922 when the old ping pong association was revived.
By this time, Germany, Hungary, and England were the leading table tennis representatives and pioneered the formation of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in 1926. By the mid-1990s, more than 165 states had become members.
The first world championships were held in 1926. Table tennis was dominated by European players from this time till 1939. Table tennis became an official sport in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
In the mid-1950s, Asia emerged as a breeding ground of champions, and from that time, the individual and team events (for both men and women) have been dominated by athletes from China.
The game’s popularity in China gave rise to the so-called “Ping-Pong diplomacy,” a period during the 1970s in which Cold War tensions between China and the United States were eased by a series of highly publicized table tennis matches between athletes from the two countries.
Strongest Countries in Table Tennis – Conclusion
This article has provided information on the brief history of table tennis and where it is now. Table tennis has been embraced over the years, reaching a level where it has become a preferred sport by many people.
The above countries have put a lot of resources into table tennis to ensure that it is a loved and enjoyed sport by every person in these countries. They have highly invested in it that’s why they can secure so many titles and wins from international table tennis games and competitions.
ITTF World Ranking Top 20 Strongest Countries in Table Tennis – Men
They didn’t start winning overnight; they put so much effort into reaching where they are throughout the years.
While these are the top three countries in table tennis, it is essential to note that any country can rise and take the number one spot.
For the strongest countries in table tennis to stay at the top, they must continually work on their techniques and strategies. China, Japan, and Germany should not get too comfortable at the top of the list; other countries quickly catch up.