By James Crook

168648308May 13 - A record number of over 800 competitors from 127 associations will compete in Paris at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Table Tennis Championships, which got underway today.

The Championships mark a first appearance for players from Antigua and Barbuda in an increasingly diverse competition which now features players from all corners of the world.

The number of entries has grown considerably from the previous record number of 678 players from 114 associations that competed at the last event in Rotterdam in 2011, and ITTF President Adham Sharara spoke of how this is an indication of the federation's development programmes having their desired effect.

"These impressive numbers is a credit to our strong development program that we have been running for the past 10 years." he said.

"More people and more countries than ever are now playing table tennis."

168703600The 2013 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships will boast the highest number of players from the most number of countries in the tournaments history

The preliminary rounds have thrown up fixtures such as Tajikistan v Uganda, Moldova v Madagascar and Turkmenistan v Nepal, emphasising the global nature of the sport.

And the 12,000-seat Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy has provided competitors with a huge stage on which to show their talents.

"I was so excited" said Thailand's Tamolwan Khekhuan.

"It's my first World Championships, my first time in such a big arena, I was so nervous."

The World Championships will also be easier to follow than ever before, with live coverage of the tournament being televised in China, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Chinese Taipei, USA, Mexico, as well as throughout Europe on Eurosport and through Africa on Al-Jazeera.

Highlights of the day's matches and daily news round-ups as well as behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews with the world's top players are also available on the ITTF's official YouTube channel.

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