Table Tennis, although it is not clear, probably evolved in England descending, along with tennis and badminton, from the ancient medieval game of tennis. During the second half of the nineteenth century it was played using the names of Gossima, patented in 1891 by John Jacques and Son, and Whiff-Whaff, patented by Slazengers. The name of Ping Pong was derived as a result of the imitation of the sound made by the ball striking the table and the vellum bats that were in use.
By the 1880s the game had become fashionable amongst the upper classes being played on the dining room table and in the 1890s several patents with simple rules were being registered.
The International Table Tennis Federation was formed in 1926 with the first World Championships being held in London that year. These were later held in Budapest in 1929 and were won by Fred Perry of tennis fame. More national associations were formed and a standardisation of the rules began in both Europe and the Far East .
It now claims to be the world's largest participation sport, with 40 million competitive players and countless millions more playing recreationally. Leading players hit the ball at speeds up to 160 kilometres per hour using rubber-coated wooden and carbon-fibre rackets. But the sport did not makes its Olympic debut at the Seoul Games until 1988.
In 1992 two bronze medals were awarded in each event but ue to China's dominance in the sport the format was changed in 2004 where competitors are divided into two groups such that those in the same country must be in their respective group.
This format makes it such that one single country cannot win all three top medals - as have been the case during numerous Olympic tournaments, where China dominated in almost all events and won the vast majority of medals. In 2008, the doubles events were replaced by team events to lessen the emphasis on doubles play.
There is a one minute break between games when players change ends, however, if both players are ready in less than a minute, play resumes. Each player is also allowed to take one one-minute timeout per match. If the player who calls the timeout wishes to resume play in less than one minute, then play resumes.
There are various psychological ploys used in table tennis to gain the upper hand, despite a strict code of conduct that penalises unsporting behaviour. Staring out opponents or delaying the action by towelling off and tying shoelaces are all common tactics.