One of the most amusing quotes of 2008 must be this: At a party to mark the handover of the Olympic flag in Beijing, newly elected Mayor Boris Johnson laid claim to Britain’s sporting inventiveness.
Virtually every single one of our international sports were invented or codified by the British. And I say this respectfully to our Chinese hosts, who have excelled so magnificently at Ping-pong. Ping-pong was invented on the dining tables of England in the 19th century, and it was called Wiff-waff! And there, I think, you have the difference between us and the rest of the world. Other nations, the French, looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to have dinner; we looked at it an saw an opportunity to play Wiff-waff. And I say to the Chinese, and to the world, that Ping-pong is coming home!