What is Team GB and how are the Team GB table tennis players selected for the Olympic Games?
Team GB is the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic Team which competes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games.
There is only one Olympic team from Great Britain and Northern Ireland - Team GB.
All the individual sports which are included within the Olympic Games join together to become Team GB - the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic Team.
But let's first take a quick look at how the Olympic Movement is set up, and then take a closer look at Team GB Table Tennis.
The three main parts of the Olympic Movement are...
Additionally, the Olympic Movement includes the Organising Committees of the Olympic Games for each specific Olympics.
So let's take a quick look at each of these...
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) role is to lead the promotion of Olympism in accordance with the Olympic Charter which details the philosophy, aims and traditions of the Olympic Movement.
International Sports Federations (IFs) are the governing bodies that supervise a sport at international level ... so for table tennis that's the International Table Tennis Federation. There are currently 35 IFs in the Olympic Movement.
National Olympic Committees (NOCs) represent and regulate the Olympic Movement within each country and they consist of a member of each of the Olympic sports. So, for example, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is the NOC of the United States, whilst the British Olympic Association (BOA) is the NOC of the United Kingdom. There are currently 205 NOCs recognized by the IOC.
Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) are the temporary committees responsible for the organisation of a specific Olympic Games. OCOGs are dissolved after each Olympic Games, once their final report is delivered to the IOC.
So let's take a closer look at ...
So, as we now know, the British Olympic Association (BOA) is the National Olympic Committee (NOC) for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
It was formed in 1905 and originally consisted of seven National Governing Body members.
However, the BOA now consists of 33 National Governing Bodies which represent each Olympic sport (both summer and winter sports).
So Team GB is selected and managed by the BOA in conjunction with the national governing bodies of each sport, which in the case of table tennis is The British Table Tennis Federation (BTTF).
The British Table Tennis Federation is made up of the four home nations and has been formed to select the Great Britain squad for the Olympic Games. The English Table Tennis Association (ETTA) is the lead nation and its Chairman, Alex Murdoch, is also the Chairman of the The British Table Tennis Federation.
Remember, there is only one Olympic team from Great Britain and Northern Ireland - Team GB. There isn't an England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland team.
So how did players qualify for the 2012 London Olympics and be included in...
There was a very complicated system of qualification for the 2012 Olympic Games table tennis events, but no players from Great Britain qualified on merit.
However, at each Olympic Games, a few places are reserved for home nation players (if they do not otherwise manage to qualify) so that there will always be a local interest in each sport.
So, as London is the host city of the 2012 Olympic Games, there were places reserved for Team GB players as they did not manage to qualify in the normal way.
To take up those Host Nation places, players must have the backing of the BOA ... and this backing was in doubt until the beginning of March 2011.
The concern of the BOA was that the players might not be able to mount a creditable challenge, and they also wanted assurances from the British Table Tennis Federation that a lasting legacy would be acheived.
So, following detailed discussions with the British Table Tennis Federation, on 4 March 2011 the BOA finally confirmed that Team GB would utilise the Host Nation places in order to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games table tennis competition.
So what was said by the BOA when they announced their decision on 4 March 2011?
BOA chief executive and Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt said:
"We are very pleased to confirm that Team GB will be represented in both the singles and team table tennis events at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The British Table Tennis Federation has demonstrated to us that they have laid solid foundations to maximise the opportunity of competing at a Home Games and developed programmes to ensure a strong long term legacy for the sport.
British Table Tennis has proven to us that the young squad of players are capable of delivering a credible performance on the field of play in 2012.
In winning the silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, England's men finished above three nations who competed in the last Olympic Games in Beijing.
Real progress is being made in elite performance, there are now four British players - two male, two female – ranked in the top 200 in the world compared with none prior to the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Table tennis is a very accessible and affordable sport for people of all ages from all backgrounds.
This combined with the "London 2012 factor" and the successful programme of innovative initiatives developed by the British Table Tennis Federation to get people involved with table tennis at grass roots level, promises to have a big impact on participation and leave a tangible legacy for the sport."
So how many places were available to Team GB table tennis players?
The Olympic Games table tennis events consisted of Men's Singles, Women's Singles, Men's Team Event and Women's Team Event.
But the number of players from each NOC was limited to a maximum of three men and three women, so Team GB table tennis had six players in total.
One male and one female were eligible for the singles events, and they were joined by two others to make up teams of three for the men's team event and women's team event.
So what about ...
The selection of players for Team GB table tennis was based on a Selection and Appeals policy which was formulated in the second half of 2011.
This policy was then agreed by the BTTF Board and the BOA.
When the policy was agreed, potential players had to sign a document confirming that they accepted the criteria.
On 8 August 2011, the British Table Tennis Federation published an initial "long list" of 16 players who would be considered for selection to represent Team GB table tennis at the 2012 Olympic Games.
This "long list" would be shortened on 1st February 2012 to become a "short list" before the final team selection of three men and three women would be made in May 2012.
So it was up to the 16 players to prove to the selectors that they deserved their place in the British Olympic Table Tennis Team.
The players who were on the "long list" and were considered for selection to represent Team GB at the 2012 Olympic Games were...
On 1 February 2012, the British Table Tennis Federation published their "short list" of 10 players who would be considered for selection to represent Team GB table tennis at the 2012 Olympic Games.
The final team selection of three men and three women would be made in May 2012 after all the Olympic qualification tournaments have taken place.
The players who were on the "short list" and were considered for selection to represent Team GB at the 2012 Olympic Games were...
Although table tennis players from Team GB had the "luxury" of being awarded Host Nation places at the 2012 Olympic Games, they could also try to qualify in the same manner as all other players. However, due to their low world rankings, this was an unlikely scenario.
But, from the 11-15 April 2012, the maximum of three men and three women were entered into the European Qualification Tournament held in Luxembourg.
Team GB nominated Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford, Andrew Baggaley, Kelly Sibley, Joanna Parker and Na Liu.
The top eleven men and eleven women at the tournament claimed their Olympic places, but unfortunately none of the 6 Team GB players managed to secure any of those places.
The final chance for Team GB players to gain automatic qualification would now be at the Final World Qualification Tournament from 10-13 May 2012 in Doha, Qatar.
The final chance for automatic qualification for Team GB table tennis players came at the Final World Qualification Tournament from 10-13 May 2012 in Doha, Qatar.
Unfortunately none of the Team GB players managed to qualify in their own right, so they all had to rely on a nomination for the Host Nation places.
On 22 May 2012, the Host Nation places for Team GB table tennis players were announced by the British Table Tennis Federation.
Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker were nominated to play in the men's and women's singles respectively and they were joined in the team events by Andrew Baggaley, Liam Pitchford, Kelly Sibley and Na Liu.
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TABLE TENNIS AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
|For more information about table tennis at the Olympic Games, take a look at my other articles...
2004 Olympic Games - Athens, Greece
2008 Olympic Games - Beijing, China
2012 Olympic Games - London, England
2016 Olympic Games - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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ITTF World Tour
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Table Tennis Events Calendars
Table Tennis Officials