London 2012

Ma Lin

There is little to choose from at the summit of men's table tennis at the moment but we profile Ma Lin, the 2008 Olympic champion.

MA LIN Age: 31 Nationality: China Olympic honours: Athens 2004 doubles gold, Beijing 2008 singles and team gold

Ma, born in the Shenyang region of Liaoning in China, began playing table tennis at the age of five and soon established himself as one of the finest players on the scene.

Since joining the Chinese national team in 1994, the right-hander has scaled the heights of the tour and has scooped an incredible 70 major titles - a professional era record.

The undoubted highlight of all those triumphs was his gold medal success in Beijing where he beat fellow Chinaman Wang Hao to take the singles title.

Ma, who also bagged a team gold in the last Olympic games, has won virtually everything in the sport - with an elusive World Championship title being the only obstacle in his quest for the table tennis Grand Slam.

Unsurprisingly, the 31-year-old has been the top-ranked table tennis player with his first climb to the summit coming back in 2002.

His longest period at number one came from the tail end of 2003 where he went on to spend eight months at the top but it has been four years since the penhold grip-user was the top-ranked player.

Currently third in the world, Ma faces stiff competition at the 2012 Olympics. Current world number one Timo Boll is a contender in London, as is Beijing silver-medallist and second-ranked Hao.

Ma Lin

  • DOB: 19/2/1980
  • Event: Table Tennis
  • Medals: 3 golds