Ping-pong players shoot into the record books

Ping-pong world record at Bethnal Green pic: Michael Pooler

Players batted their way into the Guinness Book of World Records at the world’s largest-ever ping-pong rally in Bethnal Green.

One hundred and seven people were involved in the world-beating feat at Rich Mix arts centre on Bethnal Green Road on November 20. They pipped the previous record of 102 players in a ping-pong rally, putting together a string of 107 continuous shots without dropping a single one.

The afternoon saw a total of 160 participants spanning eight decades of ages take part. The youngest player to hit the ball in the final successful attempt was 11 years of age, while the oldest was a sprightly 90.

Glorine Foster, 55, a teacher from Oxford, described the feeling of entering the record books as “brilliant”.

She said: “I really didn’t expect us to do it. I thought we would be here until 10pm. I am going to tell all the kids in school.”

It wasn’t all plain sailing and at points of the afternoon victory appeared doubtful. Around an hour before the winning shot participants went agonisingly close to touching the record – only to be denied a mere four strokes from glory.

But scenes of jubilation finally broke a tense atmosphere at around 3.20pm, after more than three dozens attempts and just over two hours into the effort.

All of the players who hit the ball in the successful attempt are now provisional record-holders, subject to adjudication by Guinness judges.

Organisers of the English Ping Pong Association said that attendance exceeded expectations, with people travelling from as far as Cornwall to participate in the effort, which was open to all.

Andy James, 29, from Hackney, who helped to organise said: “I am massively chuffed – it was a really exciting day and everybody played with the right attitude and spirit. To be honest, I was relieved that enough people came in the first place.”

Former professional table tennis player John McShane, 60, from Watford told EastLondonLines that his own playing days “didn’t compare” with the experience.

He said: “It was fantastic. Everybody had the right approach and once it got serious we got into a rhythm.

“It was different from playing table tennis competitively, as everybody came together in a joint effort.”

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