08 Feb 2017

The most successful female player in the history of the Africa Games, winning the Women’s Singles in consecutive editions, succeeding in Johannesburg in 1999 and four years later on home soil in Abuja; Olufunke Oshonaike emerged somewhat of a surprise winner at the 2016 ITTF-African Senior Championships staged in Agadir last October.

Notably the only Nigerian player on duty in the Women’s Singles event, the 41 year old turned back the clock in the Moroccan city.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Press Officer

Against the odds she beat Egypt’s Dina Meshref, the defending champion, in the final.

It is one of the very few defeats that Dina Meshref, who sets an example for all to follow, has experienced against a fellow African adversary; in recent years she has won every major event that the continent has to offer.

She has underlined the fact that high level play can be combined with high level education; alongside Nadine El-Dawlatly and Yousra Helmy, as in London Dina Meshref was on duty at the Olympic Games.

Egypt leads the way in Africa; the fact that Olufunke Oshonaike was the only player from her country on duty in Adagir underlines the fact that in Nigeria, there is work to be done.

Thus, concerned about the current situation, Olufunke Oshonaike, who is based in Germany, plans to return to Nigeria to conduct a ten day training camp.

“I love table tennis and the sport has given me all that I need in life. Apart from the fame, I have made some fortune from the sport. All these were made possible because I was committed to the sport and this made it possible for me to achieve all what I needed.  Unfortunately these days, the Nigerian players are frustrated because of lack of exposure and this has discouraged most of them. I am hopeful that the clinic will help to re-launch them back to track and I want to use the opportunity to inspire and also help them with some equipment that will aid them in training. I really want to focus on the female players because we have not been producing top female players like before and I hope that after telling them my story, they will be encouraged to aim high in the sport”, Olufunke Oshonaike

Impressively, six appearances in the Olympic Games, the first being in Atlanta in 1996 and present ever since that date; Olufunke Oshonaike has a vast experience, she has a great deal to offer.

“I believe when top players like us organize such programme for the young players, they can be inspired and motivated to take a cue from us”, Olufunke Oshonaike

Over 20 players comprising 11 girls and nine boys have been shortlisted by the Nigerian Table Tennis Federation. The training camp is planned to be staged at Nigeria Table Tennis Federation Training Centre located at the Lagos National Stadium from Saturday 25th February 25 to Sunday 5th March.

General News Olufunke Oshonaike