Host City: London, Great Britain
Date Started: July 28, 2012
Date Finished: August 8, 2012
Participants: 174 (86 men and 88 women) from 57 countries
Youngest Participant: Lily Zhang (16 years, 43 days)
Oldest Participant: Zhiwen He (50 years, 59 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 6 athletes with 2 medals
Most Medals (Country): China (6 medals)
The table tennis tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics was held at the [ExCeL] on the Royal Victoria Dock in London. The site also hosted boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo, weightlifting, and wrestling events, making it one of the busiest venues of the Games. The top 28 males and females, based on their rankings following the 2011 World Championships, automatically qualified for the singles events. One of the biggest changes from previous editions, however, was that each nation could have only two entrants per event in an attempt to curb the overwhelming Chinese dominance in the sport. The restriction on national entries was not unprecedented, as it had been undertaken in swimming during the 1970s, due to American and East German dominance. The rest of the spots were allocated by a series of qualification tournaments that ran from June 2011 through April 2012. For the team events, the highest-ranked squads from each continent at the conclusion of the 2012 World Championships, as well as Great Britain as the host nation, were automatically qualified, while the remaining spots were allocated based on each nation's world ranking.
Since table tennis' introduction at the [1988 Summer Olympics], China had won 20 of the 24 gold medals, swept the gold medals four times, and always come out on top of the medal rankings. The new restrictions on the number of entrants per event had little effect, as the Chinese competitors won every medal available to them with a sweep of the golds and additional second-place finishes in the singles events, matching their relative performance from 2008 (where they had also won bronze in both singles categories). [Zhang Jike] and [Li Xiaoxia] earned gold in both the singles and team events, while Olympic veteran [Wang Hao] repeated his 2008 feat of winning gold in the team event and silver in the singles category (the latter of which he had also accomplished in 2004). [Guo Yue], who won team gold in 2008, individual bronze the same year, and bronze in the doubles in 2004, also added to her medal tally with the women's team victory. Outside of the Chinese delegation, [Feng Tian Wei] of Singapore and [Dmitrij Ovtcharov] of Germany were the stars of the tournament, each adding individual and team bronze medals to the team silver medals they had won in 2008. Some criticism emerged that Chinaâs dominance at the Olympics suggested that the sport was not competitive enough to be part of the program (as had been determined for baseball/softball after the 2004 Games) and should be removed from the Games.