Rio De Janeiro, Aug 4 (IANS) International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) President Thomas Weikert said that he doesn’t think China’s dominance over the sport is something that they should be blamed for.
In the past seven editions since the sport debuted as one of the Olympic programmes in 1988, China have collected 24 out of 28 gold medals and swept at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012 most recently, reports Xinhua.
“It’s not the fault of the Chinese players to be so good,” said the 54-year-old German after the draw was made three days prior to the kick-off of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games table tennis competitions. “My opinion is that the others have to work very hard.”
Weikert continued: “China have dominated our sport and are again expected to be the favourites here in Rio de Janeiro. It’s better if you have a competition, but it was not competitive in the last world championships.”
China’s dominance had led to several format changes from ITTF, including the one after China’s sweep of all Olympic table tennis medals in Beijing 2008 to limit member associations to two contestants per gender, as well as the Chinese-dominated doubles was replaced by team events.
Weikert, however, was confident that other associations have been working hard in trying to catch up with the Chinese team.
“I think some associations, such as Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Germany, have improved a lot to close the gap, and I’m expecting a real fight from players,” he added.
“I guess the Chinese also know that an uncompetitive sport won’t have a bright future, sending players and coaches abroad to help develop table tennis in other countries and regions.”
“I think it’s good for the sport and together with the Chinese associations, we can do better,” he added.
World No.9 Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus echoed that more players playing table tennis was very important.
“Our federation is trying to make table tennis more popular in the country,” said the 40-year-old who’s attending his sixth Olympic campaign. “It’s very important that more players play table tennis.
“There’s always a bit of a chance that one of the kids will become one day a superstar who will be able to beat the top Chinese players,” he said.