Table tennis, often known as Ping Pong, was a favorite after-dinner sport among Victorian England's upper class. During their rule over India in the 1860s and 1970s, British military officers introduced makeshift versions of the game to the country.
The sport grew in popularity, and a number of competitions were staged in 1901 and by the same year, books were being written about the game. The first unofficial Table Tennis World Championship took place in 1902. The Table Tennis Association (TTA) was established in 1921, while the United States Table Tennis Association (USTTA) was established in 1933 by the US governing body.
Table tennis which is one of the oldest sports in Nepal was established officially as the All Nepal Table Tennis Association in 1950 AD. Nepal has represented many international tournaments and has organized national games since its establishment.
29-year-old Nabita Shrestha was fascinated by table tennis ever since she first heard about it during her childhood. She had always been enthusiastic about sports and would play whatever was available at school. "I was still quite young when I first learned about table tennis", she says. "Seniors in my school wouldn't let juniors play much. But that didn't stop me from playing. I was so fascinated that I could play anywhere, including on the floor, cemented board, and even on the wooden ply of the bed,” she adds. Shrestha later went on to become a national table tennis player in Nepal.
"I used to play taekwondo before I discovered table tennis. My parents, especially my father, were upset when I told them I wanted to play table tennis instead of taekwondo", she says. With the support of her coach who never stopped encouraging her, Shrestha kept playing despite her father's disapproval. "I'll never forget the day I was chosen for the first time to represent my school in table tennis. That is the most memorable and happy event of my life because I began to consider table tennis as an important part of my life from that day forward," she says.
Shrestha, a 8-time national gold medallist, has also won numerous international medals since she was a member of Nepal's junior Table Tennis team. She just won 2 bronze in the 13th South Asian Games, which were held in Nepal. She was the winner of the Bajaj Pulsar Sports People's Choice Award in 2015 and was named Best Player of the Year by the Nepal National and International Players Association in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018.
Shrestha is not only a player, but she is also a coach, a national referee, an executive member of the Kathmandu District Table Tennis Association and the Nepal National and International Players' Association (NNIPA), and used to be the secretary of the Baneshwor Rotary Club.
Shrestha is now married and has a child, but her passion for table tennis has not gone. "My husband, who is also a table tennis player and coach, has always been my biggest supporter, not just in my table tennis profession but also in my personal life, since the day I met him. Despite the fact that we have a child and it might be difficult to manage time, he has always been supportive of my games and training," shares Shrestha.
Shrestha also established the Stag Champion Table Tennis Academy where she, her husband, Rakesh Maharjan, and national player Alina Maharjan train roughly 14 young players. "Being a sportsperson, no matter where you are in the world is not a terrible thing if you are talented and hardworking. The majority of Nepalese athletes are dissatisfied with the government's facilities, and they must purchase their own sporting equipment; nonetheless, this does not prevent us from continuing to do what we love. Discipline, hard effort, smart work, commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm, in my opinion, are the fundamental qualities for anyone to be successful in life, whether in sports or not," Shrestha says.