Everyone knows that China is the dominant nation in table tennis. The Chinese sports machine turns out champion after champion, robotic warriors who won 21 of 24 gold medals since ping pong became an Olympic sport in 1998.
But very few know that back in the sport's nascence, it was dominated by Hungarians, more specifically Hungarian Jews, most specifically Viktor Barna.
Barna's record was spectacular: from 1929 to 1938, he won a total of 31 medals at the World Championship, including 21 golds. Five times he was crowned the individual world champion (other medals came in doubles, mixed doubles, and team categories).
Of course, you notice when that reign ended, so you can guess what happened next. Barna got out of Central Europe, making his way to England. Competing for his adopted country, he won a doubles gold in 1939. Barna continued to play after fighting in the war. Although he never tasted gold again, that brought his medal total to an amazingly spectacular 41. His last two were gathered at the age of 43 in 1954, a quarter century after his World Championship debut.
We'd like to see the the Chinese try to top that!