Ping Pong - 乒乓球 (pīng pang qiú)
Did you know that Ping Pong originated from 1880s Victorian England? It was invented by the upper classes as an indoor alternative to tennis when it was too cold to play outside. Players would set up nets across their dining tables and sometimes even use stacks of books as nets, cigar box lids as bats and golf balls or rounded champagne corks for balls.
As you can imagine, it caught on very quickly being a lot more accessible for people to play at home as they didn’t need a big outside space.
Ping pong was brought to Japan in 1902 by a university student who had learned to play in England. It eventually spread to China, where revolutionary leaders Mao Zedong would often play against each other during their long years of political exile.
It was only in the early 1950s that Mao decreed table tennis as the national sport of China.
Why Mao chose to highlight table tennis is not known. Perhaps it is because he liked the game himself and realized it was the perfect low-cost game for a nation of peasants. In any case, China was admitted to the International Table Tennis federation in 1953 and it wasn't long before world-class tennis players emerged. And the rest as they say is history.