Former African table tennis champion, Olufunke Oshonaike has been inducted into the exclusive club of seven time Olympian known as the ‘Club 7’ by International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
Oshonaike is the first table tennis player in the world and the first African female athlete to participate in seven Olympic Games. She is also the first female to be inducted into the 7th Club.
She was inducted during a brief ceremony which took place in Tokyo recently. The ceremony was attended by the President of ITTF, Thomas Weikert and 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).
While talking about the honour, Oshonaike said she hoped the honour would offer hope to young Nigerians that dreams can come through.
She said: “I hope this award for me and my country, as the only female in the seventh club in the world, and the only woman in Africa to have achieved the dream of representing her country at the Olympics seven times, will brighten the hearts of Nigerians especially for young girls that dreams can come through regardless of the challenges in life.
“Though I might not have won gold, silver or bronze, I have won what no woman in the world of table tennis has ever won. Thank God for the award – the 7 Club award. I’m a proud Nigerian and I hope more women will join me.”
Oshonaike exited in the preliminary round of the women’s singles after she lost to Liu Juan of the United States. She has however ruled herself out from Paris 2024 in France.