29 Jul 2020

Silver medallist in women’s singles class 6-10 at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Nigeria’s Faith Obazuaye now aims to repeat that success.

Next year in Tokyo she will make her debut at the 2020 Paralympic Games; she will compete in women’s singles class 10, the aim to be the first female table tennis player from Nigeria to reserve a podium place in the prestigious quadrennial event.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa Press Officer

Faith Obazuaye was a full of life seven year old but an accident in 1995 turned her dreams to uncertainty; the outcome was her left arm had to be amputated.

After the incident, Obazuaye lost all hope to becoming what she dreamt of in life but in 2004 her introduction to table tennis turned her sorrow to joy. She is now one of the most respected para table tennis players in Africa.

“I was full of life as a seven year old looking forward to a bright future. In 1995, I was carrying my sister’s child when I was hit on my left arm with a piece of wood by a young boy who I was with. I thought it was just a wound until the arm degenerated to the extent that they had to amputate it. I was discouraged, I lost all hope but in 2004 when I was 16, a coach Sunday Odebode invited me to play table tennis and this was how my interest in the sport started. I was playing so well that I became Nigeria national champion in women’s class 10.” Faith Obazuaye

Obazuaye made her international debut for Nigeria at the 2011 at the African Para Championships in Ismail, Egypt, there was instant success; she became the continental champion.

“I must admit that playing table tennis has changed my life for better because it has exposed me to the world and boosted my confidence in life. I started playing internationally in 2011 but because of a lack of sponsors I could not compete regularly at international level but locally in Nigeria, I ruled my class.” Faith Obazuaye

In 2018 at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia, Obazuaye stunned established players to work her way into the final without dropping a game.

From the group stage where she was pitched against Australia’s Andrea McDonnell, India’s Vaishnavi Sutar and Canada’s Stephanie Chan, Obazuaye was unbeaten.

Undaunted by the home support for McDonnell, Obazuaye emerged successful in straight games (11-9, 11-9, 11-6). She continued where she started against the Australian with another convincing win over India’s Sutar (11-0, 11-2, 11-2). To top the group, she once again showed her class beating Stephanie Chan (11-7, 11-5, 11-9).

At the semi-final stage she accounted for England’s Felicity Pickard (11-6, 11-7, 11-8) to win a berth in the final where, after securing the first game, she experienced defeat when facing Melissa Tapper (7-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-3).

“Not many knew me before the Commonwealth Games but after the Games, I noticed that people now regard me and I am better for it. My life has changed for better and people now see ability in my disability. Through table tennis generally, I now see myself as an important person in the society.” Faith Obazuaye

Emerging the winner at the African Championships held in Egypt in 2019, meant Obazuaye booked her Paralympic Games place.

“I am yet to get over my qualification for Tokyo because I have not competed on such big stage before in my life. Table tennis will be taking me to Japan to compete against the best in the world. I hope and I believe I can make it to the podium but I just need to train well and also compete internationally before the Games.” Faith Obazuaye

Features Faith Obazuaye