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Table Tennis

Tokyo Olympics: Table Tennis - A look at all the events and categories

With four Indian paddlers headed to Tokyo, let's take a look at all the categories of table tennis including the newly added mixed doubles event.

Tokyo Olympics: Table Tennis - A look at all the events and categories

Sohinee Basu

Published: 15 Jun 2021 12:25 PM GMT

The glaring example of just how much Indian table tennis has picked up is evident from the fact that 4 Indian paddlers have secured a berth at the Tokyo Olympics. Led by the veteran star Achanta Sharath Kamal, the upcoming Olympic Games will also see Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee put in their efforts to tow India to an elusive Olympic medal in table tennis.

Booking their tickets at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers held at Doha in March, Sharath Kamal will be looking to play his fourth Olympics while India's star paddler Manika Batra will be playing her second after Rio in 2016. Aside from competing in the single's, Sharath and Manika will also pair up to contest in the mixed doubles. Meanwhile, 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist's Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sutirtha Mukherjee will be making their Olympic debut at Tokyo.

Let's take a look at the various categories that are there in table tennis at the Olympics:

At the Olympics, table tennis is played in five different categories - men's singles, women's singles, men's team and women's team and the mixed doubles, which will make its debut this year at Tokyo. Included as a part of the Games in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, table tennis has since then been heavily dominated by the Chinese who boast of having 53 medals in it. Other than China, the nations of South Korea, Sweden, Germany and Japan also boast of producing champion paddlers.

Table tennis - Men's and Women's Singles

Ding Ning of China, Rio Olympics gold medallist, Image Source: ITTF

The men's and women's singles competition at the Olympics will follow the same knock-out pattern. At first, there is a conditional preliminary round which is followed by Round 1 that will feature 16 matches and subsequently Round 2 and Round 3 will also see 16 matches being played out. Further ahead, Round 4 will have 8 matches and will be followed up with the quarter-finals having just 4 matches. After that, the competition will move into the semi-final stage, which will be followed by the medal matches starting with the bronze medal clash and culminating with the final where the gold medallist and the silver medallist will be adjudged.

In both the men's as well as the women's singles, the matches follow a best-of-seven games format. The first player to reach 11 on the board is the winner of a game unless both players are tied at 10 all, wherein a two point lead needs to be secured to win the game.

Further, players who are ranked 33rd to the number of participants will have to compete in the prelims stage as well as Round 1. Players who are placed within the ranks 17-32 will begin competing from Round 2 and finally the top 16 players will contest from Round 3 at the Olympic Games.

Table tennis - Men's and Women's Team events

The victorious Chinese mens team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Image Source: ITTF

Comprising three playing members, the men's and women's team events at the Olympics sees five individual ties. The format is as follows - teams are required to win three matches out of the five. At first, two singles and one doubles match is played. In case the result is lodged at 2-1, a maximum of two more singles encounters can take place to determine the winner of the tie. Also following the same knockout format, the matches in the team events are played out in best-of-five clashes instead. The winners from the semi-finals move ahead to play in the gold medal clash while the defeated teams take part in a bronze medal face-off.

Table tennis - Mixed Doubles

The mixed doubles event in table tennis is set to debut at the Tokyo Olympics. Featuring only 16 teams, the Mixed Doubles will proceed in direct knockout single-elimination tournament manner. The inclusion of mixed doubles is a matter of excitement for all paddlers as now every nation will have five medals to aspire for, instead of just four. However, every country has only one quota for mixed doubles which makes it all the more thrilling. Usually, the mixed doubles are packed with high action and at the stage of the Olympics, it will be wonderful to see such matches unfurl.

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