Getting a grip: Hong Kong’s Wong Chun-ting wants to revive penhold style at Olympics

World No 8 is one of the few players to still use this kind of hold in world table tennis

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 10:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 11:02pm

Hong Kong table tennis player Wong Chun-ting may not be among the favourites for the men’s singles title but he is already being seen as an oddity in Rio.

The world number eight is among a dying breed of Asian players who still employ the penhold grip on his bat, instead of the shakehand style that is now dominant.

But Chan is hoping that a medal-winning run at the Olympics can help to revive the grip among young players.

“I hope it will not die out,” said 24-year-old Wong. “I sincerely hope that my success can motivate more players to choose the penhold grip.”

Unless Wong can provide an upset, the table tennis competition is likely to feature shakehand players in all the finals - the first time in Olympic history.

Wong opted for the penhold grip after his favourite player Wang Hao, of China, who won three Olympic silver medals using this hold as well as pioneering the backhand shot.

Wong is the first player to use the backhand smash with the same success as Wang.

WATCH: Hong Kong target medals in table tennis at the Olympics

For those who find the backhand smash too difficult, the penhold limits their play to attacking shots with the forehand and defensive chops from the backhand.

China’s Xu Xin, the world number three, also uses penhold style but has not been selected for singles duty, although he will represent his country in the team event in Rio.

Many players and coaches believe the penhold is on the way out. But if Hong Kong’s Wong can provide the inspiration by winning a medal this month at the Olympics, he may be the one to spark its revival.