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Article on Brian Kennedy by Malcolm Wong
The Beginnings of Table TennisTable Tennis began in England. The game, and to begin with it was only a game and not a sport, was born in the 1880's when adherents of lawn tennis adapted their pastime to be played indoors during the winter months. "Whiff-Waff" and "Ping Pong" were just two of a number of games patented in England during the 1890's, and sold with simple rules. "Gossamer" was another early name for the game from which Table Tennis evolved.Early equipment consisted of rubber or cork balls, and bats made of dried animal skins stretched over a wooden frame.NZ's first tournament in 1902The game's popularity rose steadily, sometimes dramatically, and by 1901 table tennis tournaments were being organised, associations had been formed, and books on the game had been published. An unofficial "World Championship" was held in 1902. The "parlour game" of table tennis was rapidly assuming the status of a serious sport. The game's popularity rose steadily, sometimes dramatically, and by 1901 table tennis tournaments were being organised, associations had been formed, and books on the game had been published.An unofficial "World Championship" was held in 1902. The "parlour game" of table tennis was rapidly assuming the status of a serious sport. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was formed in Berlin in 1926 and international laws were adopted. The first official World Championships were held in London the same year. Seven countries participated.By this time balls were made of celluloid and bats consisted of sheets of pimpled rubber glued to wooden blades. Developments over later decades included "sandwich" rubber (pimpled rubber attached to a layer of sponge), rubbers specially treated to impart extra spin or to absorb spin, and "speed" glues which were absorbed into the sponge to make the rubber springier and add speed to the ball.NZ's team to the 1939 World ChampsThe participation in the World Championships increased from seven countries in 1926 to 101 in 1997. 140 countries are now affiliated to the ITTF. Table Tennis became an Olympic sport in 1988.The Beginnings in New ZealandThe birth of the game in New Zealand closely followed developments overseas and there are reports of a representative match between neighbouring districts as early as 1902. Several New Zealand district associations were formed to administer Table Tennis as a serious sport during the 1930's and at a meeting in Wellington on 11 April 1934 it was successfully proposed "That an Association be formed to be called the New Zealand Table Tennis Association".1949 NZ Open ChampionshipsThe first New Zealand Championships were held (on four tables) in Wellington in 1934 and, apart from 1941 to 1944, have been held every year since. A more extensive history of Table Tennis New Zealand up to 1984 can be found in the book, "Fifty Years Across the Table" by Ken Wilkinson. Copies of this book are available at libraries.
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