July 27, (THEWILL) – Nigeria’s Olympian, Funke Oshonaike, entered the record books of the Olympics at the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Japan as the athlete was specially recognised for the distinguished honour of having participated in seven Olympic tournaments.
Aside from the welcoming of the ping pong player into the exclusive Club of 7, which is a rarity in the competitive world of global sports, there was an extra distinctive nature of the occasion specially for Oshonaike.
The 45-year-old Olympian was among a cast of male history makers as the first Nigerian, the first African and the first woman in the history of the Olympic Games as a whole to have reached a total of seven Olympic games.
This outstanding feat was behind the honour she enjoyed as she was inducted into the 7th Club of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
A brief ceremony was held in Tokyo on Monday for the purpose of this honour. It was attended by the President of ITTF Thomas Weikert as well as former inductees – Jörgen Persson of Sweden (1988 to 2012), Zoran Primorac of Croatia and the former Yugoslavia (1988 to 2012), Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive (1988 to 2012) and Segun Toriola (1992 – 2016).
As was obvious, of the six awardees, Team Nigeria stood proud, boasting of now having a male and a female in the exclusive club, an achievement no other country has been able to attain yet.
In her joyous mood after the ceremony, Oshonaike, who began from Atlanta to Sydney and Athens, Beijing and Rio before coming to Tokyo, said: “I hope this award for me and country will brighten the hearts of Nigerians. I am happy and thanks to Nigeria and this hardworking Sports Minister Sunday Dare.”
It was well for her to express that sentiment as there has not been much to celebrate from the results of the events for which Nigeria is taking part in Tokyo so far. She was herself knocked out 1-4 by American table tennis player Juan Liu, in the very first game of the event.
Yet, the award is reward for her dedication, passion, zeal and commitment that has seen her defy the odds to return, Olympic after Olympic, to do the hard work that qualification requires and make the sacrifices being an Olympian demands. She has now earned her place among the greatest and has the honour to show for her legendary status.
Nigeria’s other 7th Club member Segun Toriola also thanked Nigeria for the great opportunities that brought him and Oshonaike the honour of membership of the exclusive club.