ITTF Group Names First Sustainability Manager

Continuing to showcase how sustainability is driving the future of the International Table Tennis Federation, the ITTF Group announced at the first ever ITTF Summit the creation of the Sustainability Manager position for the federation.

Karine Teow, a sport for development and programme development expert from the ITTF Foundation was tapped to head the newly created position. She has been a member of the ITTF Foundation since its creation, and her position works to ensure table tennis contributes to providing solutions towards the UNSDGs.

“After a steep learning curve at the ITTF Foundation, I am both grateful and excited to take on this new challenge within the ITTF Group. Having the role positioned across ITTF, WTT and the ITTF Foundation is to me, a clear signal that we have a real buy-in from the leadership and commitment to making the changes, necessary to ensure Table Tennis is a sport for tomorrow,” Teow said of her announcement.

Commenting on her appointment, ITTF Group CEO Steve Dainton said, “We are thrilled to have a Sustainability Manager join us. We want all members of the table tennis family to think about sustainability in everything they do and deliver. Karine will support us with our agenda; her experience and expertise will be a huge asset as we move forward to attain our goals.”

Teow spent her formative years growing up in both France and Singapore and currently lives in Germany. Her global perspective will be invaluable for the ITTF Group as it looks to not only position itself as a global sport leader, but a steward of the environment while doing so.

“I will do my upmost to find my allies in making sustainability accessible and digestible to the table tennis community and ensure, all aspects of our sport contribute positively to People, Planet and Prosperity. It is with urgency that we should build on the wonderful work that has been done, get the dialogue going and take further steps together on this long journey.”

The announcement came during a panel discussion on “Sustainability, the Only Way Forward” during the ITTF Summit, a time when stakeholders from around the entire table tennis family have gathered to tackle key issues about the future of the federation.

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Sustainability

ITTF Summit Starts New Era for Federation

For the first time in two years the international table tennis community has gathered in Amman, Jordan ready to tackle big questions facing the sport over the next half century.

The first-ever ITTF Summit starts tonight in Amman, a gathering of as many stakeholders as possible to make up for time lost from not being able to meet in person due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I could not be more thankful for our Jordanian hosts stepping up and ensuring such a wonderful first-ever ITTF Summit is happening,” Petra Sörling, ITTF President, said. “When I was elected to my position, I envisioned events like this bringing together such a wide variety of stakeholders to challenge each other and think through new solutions to grow the sport we love. Seeing you all for the first time in two years will be a pleasure, and not something I take likely as your President.”

ITTF leadership will also speak at the welcome session kicking off their goals for the Summit and the full schedule. Immediately following the welcome session will be a panel discussion entitled “Growing the Table Tennis Industry.”

Special attention will be paid on the growth of World Table Tennis as the commercial arm of the ITTF Group, and how the sport has innovated the way it is presented drawing top tier athletes to a professional circuit.

“As will be reported in the finances, 2022 will be a record in terms of revenues for the ITTF Group,” said ITTF Group CEO Steve Dainton. “This is the result of bold reforms, harmonious leadership and full teamwork between the elected officials and professional staff. Our previous record was in 2019 with 23 million in revenues and a full calendar of events. This year, we will record revenues of almost 35 million! This growth is extraordinary and massive – especially 2022 was still a difficult year. Table Tennis is on the right way for growth, and we cannot wait for the year 2023.”

The panel will also look at the rise of how athletes have marketed themselves and how their journeys fit into this industry growth, with Sharath Kamal Ashanta, Chair of the ITTF Athletes’ Commission, Claudia Herweg, President of German Table Tennis Association, He Xiao, Deputy Secretary General of the Chinese Table Tennis Association.

Future World Championships Hosts Selected

This morning, just before the Summit opens, the ITTF Board of Directors met to make some key decisions about the hosts for future events.

The board awarded Nova Gorica, Slovenia and Helsingborg, Sweden hosting rights for the World Youth Championships in 2023 and 2024, respectively. Both events will carry the championships’ vibrant history as the ultimate platform for up-and-coming players from all over the world to compete and show their skills.

Slovenia will provide a strong foundation for next year’s championships, having been actively involved in the development of elite youth table tennis, hosting several key events in the WTT Youth Series. As 2024 host, Helsingborg will provide a fitting location for the stars of tomorrow in a country with a rich tradition of table tennis legends.

The board also selected Roma, Italy as the host for the ITTF 2024 World Veteran Championships.

As the ITTF Summit gets under way in full on 5 December, the following sessions will mark a robust day of dialogue:

  • Becoming a Leading International Federation
  • The Sport of Table Tennis in 50 Years
  • Sustainability, the Only Way Forward
  • Events for All
  • Home of Table Tennis

The ITTF Summit will concludes on 6 December with the Annual General Meeting. The detailed schedule is available here.

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Executive Committee Makes Key Decisions Ahead of ITTF Summit

The International Table Tennis Federation Executive Committee met in Amman, Jordan, looking forward to the upcoming ITTF Summit, and to exchanging with the table tennis family in person for the first time in years.

Greeting the committee was IOC Member HRH Prince Feisal Al-Hussein from Jordan. Prince Feisal is the President of the Jordan Olympic Committee and represented the gracious hosts of Jordan who are staging the inaugural ITTF Summit.

The newly elected co-chairs of the ITTF Athletes’ Commission Sharath Kamal Achanta and Liu Shiwen took part in their first Executive Committee meeting.

Created in 2019, the “Home of Table Tennis” plan was aimed at finding the global Home of Table Tennis, comprising offices for the ITTF Group, a Training Centre, a High-Performance & Development base. However, the COVID-19 put the plan on pause, leading the federation to reassess many of its key tenets.

The Executive Committee discussed how best to approach the project, realizing that centralizing all the venues is inefficient in the post-COVID world.

Going forward, the ITTF will work with cities around the world on a targeted dialogue to begin the process of selecting final hosts of the different venues, instead of the traditional bid process. Executive Vice President Masahiro Maehara has been tasked with working on the review of the project said that these decisions will continue to move the project forward and still provide the mutually beneficial partnerships that the ITTF had been seeking.

“Regarding Home of Table Tennis, the plan so far was to set up all the facilities necessary for table tennis in one place. But due to Covid-19, it would be a big risk; the world has changed drastically, and it became impossible to do this. That is how the idea of distributing the facilities came up,” Maehara said.

The Executive Committee will present its plans during the ITTF Summit on Dec. 5 in the final session of the day.

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Para Table Tennis Activities in the Spotlight for Development and Participation

PTT activities and initiatives have been in the focus of the Development and Participation Programs in 2022. This year, under the auspices of the Development program, Para Table Tennis (PTT) Athlete Grants were introduced, a dedicated support grant for promising and talented athletes, intended to assist MAs in improving their athletes’ training processes and boost their participation in internationally sanctioned PTT events. Out of 68 candidates, 10 athletes from 9 MAs and 3 continents were selected to benefit from the US$1000 grant.

The PTT grant holders achieved amazing results in the Singles events during this year’s major tournaments, claiming a combined 15 medals (8 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze). 8 out of the 10 selected athletes recently competed at the top world stage at the 2022 Andalucia World PTT Championships.

Grant holder Sophia Kelmer (BRA) successfully secured the silver medal in the singles event of the Women’s Class 8 action at the World PTT Championships, in addition to 2 gold medals at PTT events in Brazil and Argentina, and 2 silver medals in France and Czech Republic. Sayed Yousef (EGY) also had a successful year, with 2 gold medals at PTT events in Egypt and Jordan, and only just missed out on a bronze medal in the Men’s single class 7 event in Granada after being defeated 3:2 in a closely contested quarter-final by Miroslav Jambor (SLO). PTT grant holder, Romero Elias (ARG), class 5 athlete, had also a successful year with 2 gold medals in Argentina and Brasil, and a quarter finals appearance in the World PTT CCs.

The ITTF Development Program not only supports PTT athletes but also their coaches through the Mentorship Program, which enables promising coaches to enhance their knowledge and skills, significantly contributing to their growth by facilitating working relationships between the mentor and the mentee.

In the PTT focus area of the program, 21 applicants applied for the incentive. 3 candidates from 3 Member Associations were selected and have been matched with 2 experienced mentors in the field of Para Table Tennis.

As part of the Participation Program, a recent MA Activity enabled New Caledonia to hold a PTT training camp from 8-15 October 2022 in Noumea. In what might well be one of the best facilities in the Pacific, an accessible venue with capacity for 24 tables welcomed 25 players, 11 of them female.

The week began with a “Para Table Tennis Discovery Day” – the focus being fun activities mixed with learning the basic skills. Many new players arrive to learn about Para Table Tennis.

The training camp included advanced training drills for the players and new coaching techniques for their coaches. All participants were further educated about the history of PTT, the classification system and future pathways to major events.

“We are honored to be the first country to welcome a PTT Training Camp for the ITTF Participation Program” – Organizer Jérémy Dey

Chad Vuduc, already an experienced athlete is hoping to represent New Caledonia once again at upcoming tournaments.

“Table Tennis in general, is different from other sports I have tried. I’m really passionate about table tennis! There are very friendly people in the club, the coaches are also learning and helping me for the future. Table tennis gave me an objective to qualify for international events, so my main aim is to qualify for the Pacific Games and Oceania Para Championships in 2023!”

Following on from the training camp the New Caledonian Table Tennis League have organized a Para Championships during October, leading to selection for international events.

“This training was really challenging for my mind! It has taught me some new methods to add to my weekly training. I feel my improvement will be shown in the upcoming tournaments”. Véronique Lussiez

Within Oceania Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia have taken part in inclusive PTT activities through the ITTF Participation Program in 2022. Planned for the remainder of the year include Para Table Tennis development activities in Papua New Guinea and also Brunei from the South-East Asia region.

We are also looking forward to the Para Eurotalents Development Camp U-23 that will take place between 12 – 17 Dec 2022, in Lignano, Italy.

Featured in ITTF Magazine: My Way, the Penhold Way

Dang Qiu became the fourth German player to win the men’s singles title at a European Championships when he succeeded earlier this year in Munich’s Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle

He succeeds Jörg Rosskopf, Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov but in a somewhat different manner. In fact, he the first, he is first pen-hold grip player to win a medal of any colour in the history of the men’s singles event at the European Championships.

Read how Dang Qiu has progressed to pinnacle in Europe……

New ITTF Athletes’ Commission Meets For First Time, Elects Chairs

For the first time the International Table Tennis Federation Athletes’ Commission will have two chairs – one woman and one man – elected to lead the body today, in Amman, Jordan ahead of the ITTF Summit.

Sharath Kamal Achanta and Liu Shiwen were elected as joint Athletes’ Commission chairs, a shift into how the commission is run, as part of the ITTF’s drive for gender parity at more levels in the federation.

“I am thrilled to welcome Sharath Kamal Achanta and Liu Shiwen as the new joint chairs of the ITTF Athletes’ Commission,” Petra Sörling, ITTF President, said. “Having strong, diverse voices for our athletes is so important in keeping our federation in the lead in keeping athletes at the heart of the sport movement. I really look forward to working with them in this pivotal time for the future of table tennis.”

Sharath Kamal Achanta, 40, is the first Indian table tennis player to become a nine-time senior national champion. He made his mark on the international stage when he won the men’s singles title at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, the quadrennial multi-sport gathering the event by which he is best known. Overall, he has seven gold, three silver and three bronze medals to his name, a record no other male player can match. A recipient of the Arjuna Award for Outstanding Performance in Sports and Games in 2004, Sharath Kamal Achanta is heralded as an all-time great in his home country.

Sharath Kamal Achanta (left) and Liu Shiwen

China’s Lui Shiwen, 31, first came to note at only 13 years old, at the Kobe 2004 World Junior Championships, winning three gold and one silver. A member of the Chinese gold medal winning team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games; she took silver in Mixed Doubles in Tokyo 2020. Liu Shiwen also won the women’s singles title at the Budapest 2019 World Championships, 13 women’s singles title on the ITTF World Tour and the Women’s World Cup five times, more than any other player.

As part of being elected chairs of the commission, both Sharath Kamal Achanta and Liu Shiwen will become members of the ITTF Executive Committee. They join Ryu Seung-Min – Vice President of the IOC Athletes’ Commission – in representing the voice of athletes.

A day after being elected the two chairs will attend their first Executive Committee meeting where they will be immediately integrated into the ITTF leadership, while all members of the Athletes’ Commission will take part in the first-ever ITTF Summit here in Amman, Jordan.

The Summit is the first time in two years that many ITTF stakeholders can meet in person and will be packed with panels and presentations that will lead to key decisions for the future of the federation.

In addition to Sharath Kamal Achanta and Liu Shiwen’s election, the Athletes’ Commission elected two deputy chairs Stefan Fegerl and Elizabeta Samara. Like the two chairs, one male athlete and one female athlete was elected to ensure gender parity at the highest levels of the commission.

The other members of the Athletes’ Commission are Omar Assar, Ingela Lundback, Jon Persson, Daniely Rios, Melissa Tapper, and Kelly Van Zon.

The Athletes’ Commission is the voice of table tennis athletes in the federation, allowing an avenue for them to advocate for themselves directly to the ITTF leadership. To further reinforce the voice of athletes and provide overall support, the ITTF also established an Entourage working group.

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Athletes Commission

ITTF Leadership Arrives in Jordan for First-Ever ITTF Summit

What does it mean to be here, in Amman, just days before the first-ever ITTF Summit?
Petra Sörling: Well, it is incredible to be received by our Jordanian hosts and I want to thank them personally for offering to accommodate this wonderful event. The last two years have been very disruptive in terms of conducting federation business and maintaining key relationships with stakeholders around the world.
Having a singular event that the entire table tennis family can gather for is just so important not just in terms of catching up but in physically being present. That is an incredibly restorative process. We saw it as events began to ramp up in 2022, and we have heard feedback saying how important live events are. We want to apply that to everyone in our entire movement.

Steve Dainton: Table Tennis as a sport is at an inflection point. With the launch of World Table Tennis, and the updates made to our strategic plan, we are in great shape to make wholesale, necessary changes to our federation and the commercial aspects of our sport. Having a summit where we can candidly discuss the pertinent issues of our federation having as many perspectives present as possible, is just a thrilling possibility. I cannot wait to dive in with my colleagues.

What do you plan on discussing at the Summit?
PS: At the summit, stakeholders will be working to address the future of the sport of table tennis through keynote speakers, commission meetings and the Annual General Meeting. Near term thinking will be encouraged, but we also want to look beyond at how the sport of table tennis will be played fifty years from now, and how the ITTF can be a leading federation worldwide to reach those goals.
Sustainability will be a key message discussed throughout the entire Summit, as it has been a major priority of my mandate since being elected ITTF President. Be on the lookout for some key announcements related to sustainability this week in Amman.

Do you plan to discuss the finances of the Federation at the Summit?
SD: We are very happy to be presenting an updated financial outlook to our Member Associations ahead of the annual general meeting in Amman. Also, panels about the future of table tennis as a sporting industry should produce some lively discussions. I am excited to personally share how World Table Tennis has reshaped our commercial activities, and how it is setting the ITTF Group up for long-term sustained success.
A session to look out for during the Summit is on how the athlete experience and entourage is expected to change in the next half-century. This kind of long-term thinking is so important to dissecting industry trends and learning how we can best grow our sport.

What else can participants expect in Amman?
PS:  Another panel I am excited to attend is one about the future of our federation, where we will discuss good governance reviews. Over the last year the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations has launched a governance review of its members. We plan to discuss how to learn from this review and extend those lessons to all our stakeholders at the continental and national level. The ITTF is always looking to improve, and this is one area I am excited for our discussions about.

SD: The beauty of this ITTF Summit is we are providing our stakeholders with a professional event on a scale that many have not had the chance to participate in, while being in person. We hope this preparation shows how the ITTF Group has been approaching its broader professionalization drive, mirroring how World Table Tennis has raised standards for all our sporting events. As we move into the future the ITTF Group will be stronger and more professional, this summit is one of the first steps in showing that.

General News

ITTF Group CEO Takes Part in Wadi Ashar Dialogue

The ITTF Group was recently invited to take part in the exclusive Wadi Ashar Dialogue in Saudi Arabia, a chance for top executives to connect with leading sport, music and entertainment industry experts.

The dialogue was put on by the Saudi Arabian government as part of its Vision 2030 framework, under the theme of trying to “disrupt expectations and unlock endless possibilities.”

Wadi Ashar is part of the beautiful undiscovered Alula County in Saudi Arabia, an area the size of Belgium in northwest Arabia including Saudi Arabia’s first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site. Talks at the dialogue took place on November 28-29 and included speakers from all over the world.

“I was thrilled to take part of the exclusive Wadi Ashar Dialogue, hearing from other leading industry professionals as we orient the future of our federation,” Steve Dainton, ITTF Group Chief Executive, said. “The perspectives shared were informative and illuminating, and I cannot wait to share what I learned while taking part in the first ever ITTF Summit.”

The dialogue describes itself as “a platform for partnerships and investment opportunities inspired by natural conversations and stories, where a new paradigm is created, and the future is shaped by exceptional leaders.”

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