Seven time Olympian and Nigeria’s table tennis Queen, Funke Oshonaike, has attributed her inability to win an Olympic medal for seven consecutive attempts to Asians dominance of the table tennis.
Oshonaike, who joined the exclusive International Table Tennis Federation Club 7 after the Tokyo 2020 appearance, has been to the world’s biggest sporting fiesta seven times without any medal.
With her appearance at the just-concluded Tokyo Olympics, she sets a record of being the first female table tennis player in the world to attend seven successive Olympic Games.
The 46-year-old tennis star started her journey to the Olympics in Atlanta 96, then Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.
Oshonaike crashed out of the Tokyo 2020 at the preliminary round after losing to Juan Liu of the United States.
Picking up an Olympic medal would have been a major boost to her illustrious career, but Oshonaike said she felt fulfilled as an athlete.
“I am very fulfilled as an athlete. The only thing I would have loved more is to have gotten a medal at the Olympics, but it’s very hard. Getting in the medals zone is difficult at the Olympics because table tennis is more dominated by the Asians.
“However, I still thank God that I achieved what none of them have been able to achieve. I also hope to see more women at the 7th club in the future,” she said.
Oshonaike, who spoke to NAN from her base in Germany, lamented that no player in the country was coming close to what she had achieved in her career.
“My seventh appearance at the Olympics meant a lot to me. I dreamt about it for five years when I saw that it was only men that were in the 7th club.
“The feeling at the Olympics is indescribable, seeing my dream come true. It was a difficult journey for me but with determination, dedication, discipline and a never give up attitude, with God by my side, I achieved my dream.
“For now, I can’t see anyone coming through the ranks to achieve this feat, but impossibility is nothing though.
“My advice is for the administrators to get a very good coach and they should lead well. We need more people that know about the game to be in charge.” (NAN)