History of table tennis in Sweden
Table tennis arrived to Sweden as a recreational game called ping-pong
sometime in the 1890's,
marketed by the Jacques company of London. A club championship was organized in 1906,
but the rules were more similar to tennis. The serve was not required to bounce on
the server's side, and volleys were allowed throughout the point! I can hardly
Development of table tennis equipment was a slow process, and the sport almost
died out in Sweden in the 1910's. However, in part due to cold winters, table tennis
gained in popularity after WWI mainly in the large cities.
Clubs started to develop and in 1925 the first "large" tournament was organized.
256 players registered, all of whom were required to help the referee. It was a
success with the public. The best players were generally tennis players.
More national tournaments were organized, which were covered
by the large newspapers. Public reaction was divided on this new sport.
Some wrote that it had a loyal atmosphere played by gentlemen.
Others however warned that it could "lure" teenagers
away from more "healthy", outdoor sports such as track and field and skiing.
In 1926, more clubs and tournaments were organized, and Sweden became
involved with the international effort to promote the sport.
After some opposition, the Swedish Table Tennis Association (STTA) was created
and joined to ITTF in 1926. The same year, Sweden sent a player to play in their
first World Team Championships. However, after losing his overcoat on the boat to England,
Henrik Ander lost his first match to England's Farris.
Sweden was delegated the 1928 World Team Championships, in which 165 players from 11 nations
participated. Sweden was dissipointed with its fifth place finish.
Sweden again hosted the World Team Championships in 1949, which this time contributed to both
economic funds and popularity of the sport. An audience of 15,000 contributed
52,000 kronor (ca $5200).
For STTA's 25th year anniversary in 1951, a special national tournament
is organized. 6000 players from 600 clubs participate. Friendly matched with
England are also organized, but Sweden loses 0-5. In the 1953 World Team Championships in Bucharest,
Sweden loses big to China 1-5. Two new tournaments are organized at home: "Talant Search"
in which elite players are not allowed, and a disabled event.
Sweden's first success on the international scene is in 1954 when Tage Flisberg
wins silver in the World Team Championships. 1955 is another dissapointment- the men place 9th,
the women place 16th. Sweden hosts the World Team Championships in 1957, and although the
Swedish players don't finish well, an audience of 30,000 contribute 160,000 kronor
In the 1959 World Team Championships in Dortmund, Sweden finishes well against tough competition
at fifth for the men and 10th for the women. China has now become a table tennis power.
A foreign trainer named Ogimura, stays in Sweden for 4 months after a tournament
in 1960, and points out that "the Swedes eat too many sweets, good growth amongst
the boys, strong but slow, the girls are poor physically, must train much more".
Sweden's first trip to China is 1960. Stellan Bengtsson, "Stor-Stellan",
was first choosen to go, but was later denied permission to leave his training
with the Swedish army. During the 1960's, the Swedish team sees more
successes in European tournaments, and the junior team win many events.
In 1969, a Swedish town celebrates its 50 year anniversary with
"the World's largest table tennis event". Stiga erects 100 tables on the main street
for the public to play on. Stellan Bengtsson, now 16, trains in Japan for 4 months.
Stellan Bengtsson wins the 1971 World Team Championships in Nagoya. The men take 4th place as
a team. Ulf "Tickan" Carlsson enter the scene in the 1980 European Cup in which
he wins. Mikael Appelgren wins the European Cup in 1982 against Carlsson.
There were many successes in 1983 for the Swedes. The top three finishers in the World Cup
are 1) Applegren, 2) Waldner, 3) Lindh. The Swedish men take 2nd place in the
World Team Championships, losing to China.
1984. Banda purchases Stiga. JO Waldner wins his first of many Europe Top-12.
Ulf Bengtsson beats Andrzej Grubba of Poland to win the European Cup. Sweden hosts
the 1985 World Cup in Goteborg, in which 90 nations participate and with
an audience of 73,000. The Swedes lose big to China 0-5, and their only success with
a win is men's doubles (Appelgren/Carlsson).
1986. Waldner wins Europe Top-12 with 11 matches won, 0 losses.
Sweden beats France in the European Team finals. In the 1987 World Teams in New Dehli,
the men reach the final after two very close fights with South Korea and West Germany
(with Jorg Rosskopf). Unfortunately both Waldner and Appelgren become sick with
stomach pains before the final and cannot play.
1988: Big year for table tennis. Table tennis is for the first time a sport
in the Olympics. Waldner and Jorgen Persson reach the quarter finals. Erik Lindh wins
bronze. Sweden's men team wins the 1989 World Teams with 5-0 against China in the final.
Waldner is World Champion after beating Jorgen Persson in the final.
Sweden takes the top three places in the 1991 Europe Top 12 with Lindh, Waldner,
and Persson in order. The dubbels team of Peter Karlsson/Thomas Von Scheele become
World Champions in Chiba, Japan. Waldner wins gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Sweden wins the 1993 World Teams in Goteborg against China in the final.
Waldner loses to Saive of Belgium in the semis.
Marie Svensson becomes European Champion in 1994. The men place 2nd at
the 1995 World Teams held in China. Waldner wins his 7th European Top-12 in 1996,
however the Olympics in Atlanta is a dissapointment.
Waldner becomes World Champion in 1997 in Manchester
where he wins 21-0 in total sets and an unbelievable match against Samsonov in the final.
2000. Sweden wins the World Teams in Kuala Lumpur with 3-2 against China
in the final. At the Sydney Olympics, Waldner takes silver, Persson reaches semis.