09 Jul 2024

The Olympic Games are a breeding ground for legends, but within this elite company exists an even more exclusive circle – Club 7. These aren’t your average Olympians; they’re the table tennis titans who’ve defied age, competition, and the odds to compete a staggering seven times on the grandest sporting stage.

Seven Olympic appearances is a testament to an athlete’s unwavering dedication and exceptional talent. These players have dedicated years of relentless training, honing their skills to compete at the highest level. With the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the legendary Timo Boll is poised to join this elite club, further solidifying Club 7’s status as a mark of true table tennis greatness.

Let’s meet the remarkable individuals who make up Club 7:

  • Jean-Michel Saive (Belgium): (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012) A relentless attacker with a signature backhand topspin that could leave opponents bewildered, Saive was a fan favourite for 24 years, and reaching the Men’s Singles quarterfinals in both Barcelona and Sydney has cemented his legend status in the sport.

  • Jörgen Persson (Sweden): (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012) The epitome of cool and collected, Persson mirrored Saive’s Olympic journey. Renowned for his tactical brilliance and unflappable demeanor, Persson came tantalisingly close to a medal, reaching the Men’s Singles semi-finals twice.


  • Olufunke Oshonaike (Nigeria): (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020) A true trailblazer, Oshonaike isn’t just the only woman in Club 7, she’s also the first African player ever to achieve this feat. Her unwavering determination and fierce spirit have not only seen her represent Nigeria at every Olympics since Atlanta 1996, but also inspired countless young athletes across the continent.

  • Segun Toriola (Nigeria): (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) Joining Oshonaike as a pioneer for African table tennis, Toriola wasn’t just a phenomenal player, but a history-maker. His exceptional footwork and powerful forehand helped him become the first African to reach the Men’s Singles quarterfinals at the Olympics (Beijing 2008), solidifying his place as a Nigerian sporting legend.

  • Zoran Primorac (Croatia): (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012) A versatile player with exceptional touch, Primorac’s career mirrored that of Saive and Persson. Representing both Yugoslavia and Croatia throughout his career, his consistency and longevity are truly remarkable.

These are the gladiators who’ve graced the Olympic stage for seven editions. Their unwavering passion and dedication inspire not just table tennis players, but athletes across the globe. While some may not have secured that elusive Olympic medal, their achievements in reaching the pinnacle of the sport seven times over deserve immense recognition. They are the Club 7, and their legacy in table tennis is forever secured.

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