By Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Press Officer
In table tennis globally, Olufunke Oshonaike of Nigeria holds the record as the only female player to have featured in six Olympic Games after her appearance at Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The African champion who is based in Hamburg, Germany is also the most decorated female table tennis player in Africa having won more medals at the African Games than any player in the continent.
Savouring the experience of playing at the 2017 World Championship in Dusseldorf in May, the mother of two said: “Playing any competing in Germany is like playing in China or Japan because these are the best teams in the world. In Europe, Germany is a table tennis loving country and playing any competition in this country is always awesome. Particularly with the ever-supporting fans that are always present to cheer the players regardless of the team such players are playing for. I am eagerly looking forward to the tournament because it is also the assemblage of the best in the world. I cannot wait to compete in Dusseldorf,” she said.
Describing her outing at the 2015 edition as the best outing for her in all her participations in the competition, adding that what made her experience in China was facing the eventual champion, China’s Ding Ning in the first round of the women’s singles. “I think my experience in 2015 in China was my best outing in the competition. I made it from the qualifiers to the main draw and unfortunately I had to face Ding Ning in the first round. It was a good experience for me and particularly with the cheers from the Chinese fans. I enjoyed the moment and I am also looking forward to a good outing in Germany this year,” she added.
She said that her target in Dusseldorf was to exceed her 2015 performance which she however, admitted was a tall order. “At 42, people are always asking me when I will quit but I know when I am to leave the stage because for now my body is still carrying me and I also train very well particularly playing with my club in the second division of the Bundesliga. I am hoping that I can do better than 2015 in Dusseldorf. Although it is a tough challenge for me and I know it is possible with good draws,” the Team Nigeria flagbearer to Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
For more than 10 years, Olufunke Oshonaike has been living in Hamburg with her family.