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London 2012 Olympics qualifying: Table Tennis

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How qualification works:

KEY DATES: TABLE TENNIS
16 MAY 2011
World Championships end - world rankings used to qualify 28 players
LATE 2011
Last continental qualification tournament is played
MAY 2012
Final qualification tournament held, details to be confirmed

There are four table tennis gold medals to be won at the London Games, with men's and women's singles and team events scheduled.

The simplest way to qualify for the Olympics is to be in the top 28 names on the world rankings list of the International Table Tennis Federation immediately after the 2011 World Championships, which finish on 15 May in the Netherlands.

No country can have more than two players per gender in the singles events at the Games, so if, say, more than two Chinese players are in the top 28 at that time, only the top two earn places. That means some players below 28th place may well still be given a qualification berth.

There are then six continental qualification events, in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America, Oceania and Europe, from which 40 more players per gender will qualify. (Check the official qualification document for full details.)

In May 2012, a final qualification tournament will award two more places per gender to competitors who have not been able to qualify via any other avenue. There is also one invitational place per gender, to be allocated by the ITTF.

Qualifying for the team competition complicates things slightly.

At the 2012 World Team Championships, the highest-ranked nation from each of the six continents mentioned above will earn the right to enter the Olympic team event, as long as three of its players have met the qualification criteria for the singles event. (Only two can actually qualify for the singles, but it is possible for far more to meet the criteria.)

Beyond that, the top remaining teams from the 2012 World Team Championships fill out the Olympic event until there are 16 teams in place, including one guaranteed berth for the hosts, Britain.

Teams qualify a third player for the Olympics, to take part in the team event alone - they may not enter the singles if two players from their nation are already down to take part.

Paul Drinkhall
Paul Drinkhall represented England at the Commonwealth Games

How are British competitors doing?

British table tennis has the luxury of one guaranteed place per gender in both the singles and team events, so at least six British players will be at the Games - a men's singles player, a women's equivalent, and three each (including the singles representative) in the team event.

While Britain could in theory earn an extra place in the singles, GB's relatively lowly standing in world table tennis makes that seem unlikely. Paul Drinkhall, Britain's top player, is ranked only 106th in the world as of December 2010.

That means there will be an internal scrap between players to take up the lone singles place on offer, and make it into the three-person teams.



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