With the Six Nations ongoing, and the Carabao Cup recently concluding, it seems these sports may be at the forefront of focus. Yet, another, table tennis, may be aiming to also attain enter the fray, with the recent World Cup perhaps enabling this to occur. With events available for both men and women, along with extending eligibility to an array of countries, the tournament may be bypassing boundaries; with the Winter Olympics perhaps highlighting the benefits of unity, and providing a pathway for all to achieve, showcasing this trait may be important in ensuring a rise to the pinnacle. Yet, whilst some countries did indeed contest for titles, it was ultimately China who won both events, perhaps showcasing the reasoning surrounding why they have perhaps dominated the sport in recent years. As such, they may naturally claim the plaudits, although with other nations, including England, performing proficiently, the competitive nature of ties may be showcased.
Prior to the commencing of the encounters, China seemed to boast the status of favourites, most notably due to their players having consistently attained success on the singles circuit. In the individual World Cup, a Chinese representative has won the women’s edition 95% of the time, whilst there have also been 23 male victors. With this proficiency perhaps holding them in good stead, it may have also impacted rival nations, perhaps leading to a divide due to China’s superior medal haul. Yet, the opposite seemed to ultimately occur, with all the nations uniting in their quest to narrow the divide between themselves and China, and in turn surpass them.
This may have been the main motivation for nations entering the event, and may have also been a key contributor in attaining podium positions. Amongst these nations was Japan, who reached the final in both the men and women’s competitions, and whilst China emerged victorious 3-0 in both encounters, reaching this stage may solely prove dividends for the Japanese, proving they possess the credentials to achieve on the global stage. A similar result may have occurred for England, with their men’s side earning a bronze medal after their performance. Whilst showcasing how a number of teams may be capable of victory might be important in highlighting the strength in depth of the sport, ultimately increasing its appeal, England’s success may be additionally poignant. With the nation perhaps having achieved superior accomplishments in years prior, the table tennis team may have an opportunity to spearhead the country, and act as the figureheads in their quest for further glories.
Yet, the crowning glory of the event may be the opportunities it affords to younger athletes, as there seems a platform for them to attain experience via challenging themselves versus the most accomplished players in the world. This ideology may be supported by Anna Hursey who, although absent in this edition, was confirmed as the youngest representative in history for Wales at the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Entering the tournament at 11, as she will be in April, she may be showcasing how table tennis seems to be laying the foundations for innovation surrounding youth. Whilst in other sports the influx of foreign talent may have made it challenging for younger athletes to reach the pinnacle, table tennis may be taking a different approach, and with the Commonwealths and Olympics forthcoming, there may be paths to affluence.
Ultimately, whilst other sports may be superiorly supported, most notably due to the influx of monetary investments, which in turn leads to vaster incentives, table tennis may be laying the foundations to be considered alongside its counterparts. This overarching aim seems to provide people with viable pathways to enter the sport and accomplish, and with entrance into the Olympics perhaps a natural next goal for those involved in the World Cup, this pathway may be becoming increasingly viable. With table tennis England securing £9 million in funding, the support from influencers may re-emphasise credibility of the event, and in enabling the masses to get involved, the sport may be among the most recognisable events in Tokyo 2020.
What importance of table tennis is there in motivating British talent to achieve global success?