As one of eight sports featured at the first Paralympic Games, Para table tennis has grown over the years and now has athletes from all corners of the world. Here are some more facts to know about the sport ahead of Tokyo 2020:
1. Table tennis was included in the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960, 28 years before the sport made its Olympic debut. It consisted of 11 medalist events, six for men and five for women.
2. All events were reserved for wheelchair athletes, until the 1976 Paralympic Games in Toronto included the first events for standing players. Today the sport includes a range of athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities.
3. Table tennis was invented in Britain in the 1880s. Played by the upper classes, the game was played at the dining table, using household items as equipment. People used stacks of books as a net, a champagne cork as a ball, and cigar box lids as bats. By 1900 the sport was evolving rapidly and gaining popularity as an organized sport.
4. The matches are played to the best of five sets of 11 points each. In fact, Para table tennis follows many basic rules regarding equipment, match process and point scoring for its valid version. One difference is that there are special rules regarding the pitching portion of the service in some classes. According to Olympic rules, the ball must be placed in the open palm of the hand, thrown at least 16 cm in the air and kicked. In Para table tennis, where this is not possible, the ball can be thrown by placing it on the elbow or on the racket.
5. Poland’s Natalia Partyka and Australia’s Melissa Tapper competed in the Rio 2016 Paralympic and Olympic Games. Partyka, a four-time Paralympic singles champion, also competed in the London 2012 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Â© Karl Nilsson
6. Para ping-pong athletes are grouped into 11 classes according to the impact of their disability on their performance: wheelchair (classes 1-5), standing (classes 6-10) and intellectual disability (class 11). In both wheelchair and standing classes, the lower the number, the greater the impact of the impairment on an athlete’s ability to compete.
Class women 11 Â© Getty
7. There will be 31 medal events contested at Tokyo 2020 in singles and teams:
Singles – Class 1 (Men); Singles – Class 1-2 (Women); Singles – Class 2 (Men); Singles – Class 3 (Men / Women); Singles – Class 4 (Men / Women); Singles – Class 5 (Men / Women); Singles – Class 6 (Men / Women); Singles – Class 7; (Men women); Singles – Class 8 (Men / Women); Singles – Class 9 (Men / Women); Singles – Class 10 (Men / Women); Singles – Class 11 (Men / Women); Team – Class 1-2 (Men); Team – Class 1-3 (Women); Team – Class 3 (Men); Team – Class 4-5 (Men / Women); Team – Class 6-7 (Men); Team – Class 6-8 (Women); Team – Class 8 (Men); Team – Class 9-10 (Men / Women)
8. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games competition will take place from August 25 to September 3 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, with 43 matches played on day one alone.
9. The table and net dimensions used in Para table tennis are exactly the same as in the Olympic Games, with a modification for wheelchair players; the table legs are fixed at least 40 cm inside the baseline, to prevent players from hitting the table when approaching it.
ten. The first para table tennis world championships were not held until well after its introduction to the Paralympic Games and were held in Assen, the Netherlands, in 1990.