Hungary Rules Initial Stage, Egypt Cup Symbolizing Friendship

Hungary ruled the initial stage of the WTTCs, winning all five events at the first Championships and winning all events for four consecutive WTTCs from 1930 fourth WTTC to 1933 seventh WTTC. Hungary swept 47 gold medals out of 55 in total until the ninth WTTC held in 1935. Victor Barna earned 22 gold medals and Maria Mednyanszky earned 18, who still remain to be the record holders for winning the most number of titles.

▲ Hungarian legend Victor Varna in a match, who hold the most number of titles in WTTC

There was a meaningful change in the 10th and 11th WTTCs held in 1936 and 1937. Around the time, it took a longer amount of time for a match to be completed as chop was consistently used for return. Such tendency was well shown in Prague 1936 as Poland and Rumania’s men’s teams had a rally longer than two hours. In addition, the net height used to be 1.9cm higher than the one used now.

In the 11th WTTC, the U.S. team used ‘finger spin’ and won the team event. ‘Finger spin’ was a sort of a foul play that caused irregular spin by touching a ball during serving as it was possible then while regulations on serves were not yet developed.

The ITTF held General Assembly during the Championships period and banned the serve while limiting a game time to 20 minutes. According to the decision, a leading player was ruled to win a game if a game wasn’t finished within 20 minutes. The attempt to decrease the rally time resulted in lowering the height of the net and the net length of 15.25 cm is still maintained.

From the mid to late 1930s, other countries also competed for title. Players from Czech, Austria, U.S., etc. had great matches including Czech’s Bohumil Vana and Marie Kettnerova. Vana won 13 gold medals, which is the third most number of gold medals in history of WTTCs.

▲ Bohumil Vana who led the heyday of Czech

Germany was the first winner of the women’s team event, which was adopted in Paris 1934 WTTC. Germany won another gold medal in the 1939 WTTC in women’s team event and those two were the only team event gold medals that Germany won at the WTTCs. Germany couldn’t win any title in singles while earning three gold medals in doubles, though Germany hosted WTTC for six times. The 1939 13th WTTC held in Cairo, Egypt was the first Championships hosted outside Europe. Farouk I, the King of Egypt of the time donated the ‘Egypt Cup’ to ITTF in commemoration of hosting an international event. The Cup is handed over to the next host city of WTTC as it symbolizes the glory and friendship of the Championships.

▲ Egypt Cup is kept by WTTC host cities—the Cup was handed over this year in Budapest to Ryu Seung-min, the President of Korean Table Tennis Association.
Written by_Han In-su | Photo by_Table Tennis Monthly Database & ITTF Museum