25 Apr 2017

Serena Williams' news on winning the Australian Open in the early stages of her pregnancy has inspired women all around the globe. However, the tennis star is not alone. Nigeria's table tennis legend Olufunke Oshonaike too competed, not only in her first, but even during her second pregnancy!

By Neha Aggarwal

Born on 28 October 1975, Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike was 27 when she was pregnant with her first child. During her pregnancy, the 27-year old won the women’s singles and mixed doubles title at the 2002 African Championship held in Bizerte, Tunisia.

Cant believe it?

Hold on, there is more to come.

After successfully delivering her first child, she immediately came back to the sport, and that too, in style. She won a quadruple crown, yes four gold medals (singles, doubles, mixed doubles and teams) at the 2003 African games held in Abuja, Nigeria.

Unimaginable.

But there is some more to Oshonaike’s magic.

During her second pregnancy, at the age of 31, she played all her matches in the German league and was part of the Nigerian team for the Liebherr 2006 World Team Table Tennis Championships held in Bremen, Germany! She continued playing table tennis until she was six months pregnant.

“In the first six months, the bump was not showing so much. So I was still myself apart from the normal nausea that I had in the first three months. I was very strong till my sixth month. When I entered my seventh month, my belly started growing bigger.”- Olufunke Oshonaike

I wonder how she managed to play well during that phase of life. I asked her if  she had to endure fear, doubt and physical pain when she played table tennis while pregnant. But looks like, she is rock solid, both mentally and physically! She said:

“Not at all. I was just strong naturally and I clearly remember, I loved to play table tennis a lot back then,” Olufunke Oshonaike.

Oshonaike is a six time Olympian, and the only second African to achieve that feat. She has won a total of 12 medals at All Africa Games. Till today, the 41-year old keeps her passion alive and continues to defy all age barriers. She recently wont the 2016 ITTF Africa Senior Championships held in Agadir, Morocco in October 2017.

“I am very very hardworking, very very focused and very very disciplined. I have to sacrifice a lot of things that I enjoy just to get what I want,” said Oshonaike with passion in her eyes and determination in her voice.

Commenting on Serena William’s incredible feat of winning the Austrialian Open in the early stages of her pregnancy, Oshonaike said, ” I’m so very proud of her but not surprised at all.  She’s very strong and a fighter. I guess she got a lot of positive hormones that helped her and didn’t weigh her down.”

The Nigerian is not only a role model for all women in sports but also for all women in different walks of life. She is strong, determined and most importantly extremely passionate for her sport.

I wonder what’s stronger, her mind or her body.

They say mind over matter, Olufunke Oshonaike personifies it in the best way possible!

Video Credits: BBC News

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