Table Tennis

Olympic medalist faces machine in table tennis (video)

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Olympic table tennis bronze medalist Jun Mizutani of Japan took on a different type of challenger on Monday — FORPHEUS, a machine.

FORPHEUS wasn’t quite high-tech enough to handle Mizutani’s normal attacking play, according to Agence France-Presse.

Video clips show the bronze medalist in a light hitting session with the robot.

“It wasn’t any different form playing a human,” Mizutani said, according to an Olympic Channel translation. “It kept getting better as we played. To be honest, I wanted to play it at its maximum level to see how good it is. If it evolves further, it might be a very good practice partner for table tennis players.”

FORPHEUS, introduced in 2015, was given the Guinness World Records title in February for being the first robot table tennis tutor.

“FORPHEUS also features an array of cameras that are situated above the ping-pong table, which monitors the position of the ball at an impressive rate of 80 times per second,” according to Guinness World Records. “This functionality also allows the robot to show its human student to see a projected image as to where the return ball will land so that they may improve their skills.”

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VIDEO: 766-shot table tennis rally

A 766-shot table-tennis rally takes 10 minutes (video)

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A 766-shot table-tennis rally, believed to be the longest ever, was a highlight of a tournament in Qatar this week.

Rio Olympian Li Jie of the Netherlands and Hitomi Sato of Japan played for 10 minutes, 13 seconds, neither wanting to attack, before the point was cut short (mercifully) by another ball bouncing near the table.

An expedite rule, forcing a point to end within 13 shots by the player returning serve, was then enforced to speed up play. Li ended up winning in the maximum seven games.

Li and Sato were playing at the International Table Tennis Federation World Tour’s Qatar Open.

MORE: Egypt’s armless table tennis player ‘a legend’

Egypt’s armless table tennis player ‘a legend,’ Paralympic opponent says

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Egyptian armless table tennis player Ibrahim Hamadtou was YouTube famous before the Paralympics. The awe is shared by at least one of his peers in Rio.

Hamadtou was swept in both of his Class 6 singles matches in his first Paralympics at age 43 last week, including his opener to Great Britain’s David Wetherill.

“He’s a legend in table tennis,” Wetherill, also YouTube famous, said of the only armless player in the competition, according to Agence France-Presse. “I was feeling the pressure, a bit jittery. [Then] you see people like Ibrahim, and you can’t possibly feel nervous: he puts things in perspective, the things he can do.

“In table tennis it is skill versus skill, and I know I won today, but I think he has demonstrated far more skill than I have just now,” Wetherill said, according to the English Table Tennis Federation.

Hamadtou lost his arms above the elbow due to a train accident at age 10.

“After the accident, he stayed shut up at home for three years. He wouldn’t go out,” his coach said, according to AFP.

Hamadtou turned to sport, first soccer, and then table tennis. He said he started the latter at age 13, reportedly taking three years to learn and adapt. He flicks the ball up with his toes and holds the paddle between his teeth.

“I was trying first to use the bat under the arm, and I also tried using other things that weren’t working so well,” Hamadtou said, according to the International Table Tennis Federation. “Finally, I tried using my mouth.”

Though Hamadtou went winless in Rio, he doesn’t see it that way.

“Not all defeats are defeats,” Hamadtou said, according to the International Paralympic Committee. “Sometimes you lose, but you actually win because you have added to your experience, you have added to your knowledge. Today I added to my knowledge.”

MORE: Rio Paralympics broadcast schedule