October 3 - More than three-quarters of the ping-pong tables set up in London to turn people on to table tennis in the build-up to the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are to become permanent fixtures, it has been announced.

During the craze, which swept the capital this summer, more than 30,000 people had a go at the game.

The project has been hailed a huge success, with dozens of people volunteering for the London 2012 Olympic Games as a result.

Sing London and the English Table Tennis Association (ETTA) - backed by Sport England and sponsors Yahoo - placed 100 temporary and permanent tables at London landmarks such as Heathrow Airport, Westfield Shopping Centre and the Barbican.

The most popular tables were the pair in Soho Square with an average of 32 people playing per hour.

A total of 340 Ping! London coaching events were held, with 2,810 people taking part.

None of the 100 tables were vandalised during the month – and very few bats and balls went missing.

Mark Semple from Hillingdon, who has for the past month volunteered for the project, is now setting up his own club to keep the interest going in his area.

He said: "There is an unbelievable amount of talent out there and Ping! managed to bring the best out of London.

"It shows what can be done and we are proud of the success it has been."

 Sport England supported the project with National Lottery investment.

Sport England chairman Richard Lewis said: "Thanks to Ping! more than 30,000 Londoners have got back into table tennis and become part of the 2012 sporting legacy.

"With three-quarters of the tables staying exactly where they are, this table tennis craze is set to grow and grow.”

Meera Sodha, Ping! project manager, said: "We're delighted that thousands of Londoners have enjoyed playing ping-pong all over the city, from stations to museums and squares to airports.

"It’s really put a smile back on the face of London."

ETTA’s chief executive, Richard Yule, said: "The huge success of Ping! underlines the wide appeal of table tennis and highlights the demand for our sport at all levels."

Andrew Cocker, Yahoo’s Head of UK Marketing, said: "Fun is central to Yahoo!, and we thought the chance to play table tennis in iconic locations across London was a lot of fun."

A list of the location of tables can be found by clicking here.

Related stories
August 2010:
 Mark Dolley - Ping-pong points the way to ensure London 2012 legacy
July 2010: Four weeks of free table tennis hits the capital as Ping! is launched