Although Germany-based Nigerian athlete Funke Oshonaike’s Olympic journey has been cut short following the 45 year old suffering defeat, losing 4-1 to Juan Liu at the women’s singles preliminary round of table tennis on Saturday, the six times Olympic table tennis player deserves to be celebrated having recoded a feat unheard off previously in the African continent.
She rewrote the history books as the first Nigerian, first African and first woman in the world to join the exclusive International Table Tennis Federation ‘Club of 7’ to compete at seven Olympic Games.
An emotional and proud Oshonaike standing tall amongst other awardees at the induction had said;
“I hope this award for me and country will brighten the hearts of Nigerians. I am happy and thanks to Nigeria and this hardworking Sports Minister Sunday Dare.”
The sports star was sent packing from the Tokyo 2020 Games in the preliminary round. Speaking after her game, she disclosed that although she lost her game, the present moment came with mixed feelings for her;
“I feel kind of sad and happy. I am very sad that I lost but happy that I was able to be at the Olympics representing my country once again,” she said.
“It is a big privilege for me, but it is rather unfortunate for me that I had to face a Chinese-American, the best in America, in the preliminary stage,” said Oshonaike, referring to the 36-year-old Liu who, before becoming a naturalised American, was a regular in the Chinese national team between 2001 and 2006.
“Although I did my best, but it hurts. I am kind of down, but still have a lot of reasons to be happy and grateful to God and count my blessings one by one.
“I am human and I am sad because I’m already out of the Games but I am grateful that I was able to fulfil my dream. I am a seven-time Olympian, and I just want to thank everyone for their love and support for me,” added Oshonaike.