As Indian table tennis players head into the preliminaries and first rounds at Rio, we take a look at the world’s greatest paddlers of all time. From surviving a world war to completing 30 year long careers with a bang; from taking care of ill parents while working and jugggling an international career to making opponents ritually fear a particular backhand strike – the most popular racket game in the world has these legends to thank for its popularity.
Highest level of competition: Olympics (2012, 2016)
Since March of 2015, Ma Long has been comfortably nestled in the number one position of the world’s table tennis rankings. This makes him the longest holder of the rank as he goes into the Rio Olympics.
The reigning world champion, when he was 18 years old, Ma competed at the 2006 World Team Championship at Bremen and became the youngest world champion. The 27-year-old has no dearth of medals, including at gold at from the 2012 London Olympics’ team event.
If he wins gold at Rio, the backhand looper and chop blocker will complete an impressive series of wins in every table tennis competition possible, ranging from the smallest domestic competitions to the IITF World Tour to the Championships.