The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has celebrated the feat achieved by one of Africa’s most successful female table tennis players, Olufunke Oshonaike after the former African champion became the first African female athlete to qualify for seven Olympic Games.
Oshonaike qualified for her seventh Olympic Games recently at the African Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Tunis, Tunisia.
Reacting to the new feat, IOC Olympic in a report released on Thursday described Oshonaike as the continent’s most successful female table tennis player having won the highest number of medals in continental tournaments.
“Olufunke Oshonaike shed tears of joy and sadness when she won her 2020 African Singles match in Tunis in February.
By her own admission, she cries a lot. The Nigerian had just become the first African woman to secure a seventh appearance in an Olympic Games,” the report stated.
“Once again Oshonaike beat the odds stacked against her by winning a match that she wasn’t even supposed to play,” the report added.
“Nothing would crack the battle-hardened African table tennis queen, especially when she was on the verge of history. She struggled to hold it together and advance past another dark moment in her life.”
In her comment, Oshonaike said: “I was heartbroken by people attitude towards me. I still love what I’m doing. Every time I thought of stopping, I would be like, ‘Oh, I’m going to miss a lot of people. I am going to miss the team, the Olympics, the Olympic village.’ It’s another world.
She added: “Though a lot of people are asking me; “When are you giving up? Don’t you know you are an old woman?’ But I keep telling them that, “If I don’t tell you my age, would you still tell me that?”
“My body tells me that I can still play. Why shouldn’t I continue?”
Oshonaike’s greatest desire is to join the International Table Tennis Federation’s ‘seven club’ as compatriot – Segun Toriola, Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive, Croatia’s Zoran Primorac and Jorgen Persson of Sweden have all achieved the feat of seven appearances at the Olympic Games.
“The seven clubs has only men in table tennis. I will be the only woman from Africa, the whole world.
That’s my dream,” she admitted.