Nigerian table tennis star, Olufunke Oshonaike, is our focus for today. Without a doubt, Oshonaike is the greatest female table tennis player in Nigeria’s history, the numbers do not lie.
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Aside from representing Nigeria in six Olympic Games so far, Oshonaike is on the verge of becoming the first woman in the history of world table tennis to feature in seven Olympics.
She has qualified for the Tokyo 2021 Games and the world cannot wait to cheer her on when she files out this summer to make history.
Featuring in this year’s Olympics will see her become part of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) seven club (table tennis players to have participated in seven Olympics), a feat only a few male athletes can boast of.
Born Olufunke Oshonaike on October 28, 1975, in Lagos State, she started really young in Akeju Street in Shomolu, Lagos (1980s). At the age of 14, she had become popular for her exploits on the table and two years later, she represented Nigeria in 1991 All Africa Games, the start of something really big.
She has gone on to become an eleven-time All Africa Games medalist and three-time African champion. Since she made her Olympic debut in 1996, the 45-year-old has never looked back and has remained dominant in African table tennis, beating all odds to qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Games.
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However, there is more to her story other than her exploits on the table. In a bid to give back to society, Oshonaike launched the Funke Oshonaike Foundation in 2016 to help young table tennis players achieve their dreams.
In her words:
“Nothing gives me more joy than seeing all the young, poor players happy with the little I gave them.”
Importantly, Oshonaike is a big inspiration for women and victims of rape, physical violence, and other forms of sexual abuse. She recounts her ordeals as a victim when she was still very young and uses her story to motivate others.
‘Everything I’ve gone through has made me a mentor to others. I am able to share my stories with women who have been victims and encourage them to not give up on themselves. I hope more women will be bold enough to come out and speak up. I am a survivor.’
Featured Image Source: The Sun NG
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