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Tokyo 2020: Olympic Games record-breaker Funke Oshonaike thanks all after defeat

By Ifeanyi Ibeh
24 July 2021   |   4:36 pm
…as Edem progresses to next round of table tennis event Nigerian legend, Funke Oshonaike, has expressed her gratitude to Nigerians for their support and prayers after she made a glorious exit from the women’s singles table tennis event of the on-going Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Oshonaike lost her first preliminary round game to Juan Liu…

Olufunke Oshonaike of Team Nigeria in action during her women’s singles preliminary round table tennis match of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on July 24, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: AFP

…as Edem progresses to next round of table tennis event

Nigerian legend, Funke Oshonaike, has expressed her gratitude to Nigerians for their support and prayers after she made a glorious exit from the women’s singles table tennis event of the on-going Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Oshonaike lost her first preliminary round game to Juan Liu of the USA 4-1 (7-11, 3-11, 4-11, 13-11, 4-11) in the early hours of Saturday and will no longer take part in what is her record seventh Olympics.

Oshonaike, in Tokyo 2020, became the first African woman to play in seven Olympics, as well as the first woman to join the exclusive International Table Tennis Federation ‘Club of 7’ of players to have competed at seven Olympic Games.

Speaking after her game, the 46-year-old Lagos-born player said despite losing her game, she still has a lot to thank God for.

“I feel kind of sad and happy. I am very sad that I lost but happy that I was able to be at the Olympics representing my country once again,” she said.

“It is a big privilege for me, but it is rather unfortunate for me that I had to face a Chinese-American, the best in America, in the preliminary stage,” said Oshonaike, referring to the 36-year-old Liu who, before becoming a naturalised American, was a regular in the Chinese national team between 2001 and 2006.

“Although I did my best, but it hurts. I am kind of down, but still have a lot of reasons to be happy and grateful to God and count my blessings one by one.

“I am human and I am sad because I’m already out of the Games but I am grateful that I was able to fulfil my dream. I am a seven-time Olympian, and I just want to thank everyone for their love and support for me,” added Oshonaike who would be 49 by the time the 2024 Olympic Games hold in Paris, France.

Apart from Oshonaike, Team Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo, currently ranked 92nd in the world rankings, also crashed out of the men’s singles table tennis event as the Olympic debutant couldn’t match the brilliance of world number 56 Tiago Apolonia of Portugal, losing 4-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5).

Meanwhile, it was a straight forward win for another Team Nigeria table tennis player as Offiong Edem defeated Dora Madarasz of Portugal 4-1 to progress to the next round.