Why I want to go to Japan 2020 Olympics – Oshonaike

Funke Oshonaike is still dreaming. And she has lots of dreams, despite her ‘accomplishments’. “Without dreams, you are a living dead,” she told this reporter in a recent chat. “That is why I believe at 44, I can still do a lot before I retire.” Oshonaike Some of her dreams have started materialising. Funke has a foundation, which she said was made possible by God. Through the Funke Oshonaike Foundation, the only Nigerian woman to have competed in 6 consecutive Olympic Games is doing a lot to produce more of her likes, and he betters. “I am marking my 44th birthday this Saturday(today) in a spectacular way. I will be celebrating with tens of kids who will be taking part in the U-21 Table Tennis Championship being organised by my foundation at the Table Tennis section of the Ikeja Country Club,” Oshonaike said, emphasising that one of her dreams was how to affect lives positively through her foundation. “Each time I visit home and go to the stadium where I see a lot of these kids train, I marvel at the way they play with old rackets. Then I begin to wonder, if they play so well with these old worn out rackets what will happen if they are given new ones? “When I went back to Germany, I was able to get some fairly used rackets from my club and pleaded with other clubs to give me their used rackets instead of throwing them away. I beg and can even steal for the sake of these kids back home. They need to be encouraged and our mission is to put smiles on their faces.” She said that adds to the equipment put up as prizes for winners of the championship. “We have a lot of table tennis equipment as prizes for the participants. I believe this will go a long way.” Oshonaike who is still Nigeria’s best women table tennis player is nursing another dream, which she confessed is about he biggest wish. “I want to go to Japan 2020 Olympics. If I can achieve that, then I would have achieved my ultimate dream,” Oshonaike said. Nigeria’s most decorated female table tennis player said although her greatest moment as a table tennis player was during the 2003 All Africa Games, COJA, when she won four gold medals, six months after giving birth to her first baby, going to Japan 2020 Olympics would make her Africa’s longest playing female table tennis player and one to have attended the most Olympic Games. If she achieves that it will take her number to 7 Olympics. Asked whether Nigeria still need her, Funke said, “Yes,”they still need me to bring up the younger ones. They need somebody they can look up to. By the way, Funke still play very well and still number 2 in Africa. Nigeria still need me.” As table tennis enthusiasts flock to the Ikeja country club today, Oshonaike says, all hands must be on deck because the only way to produce more of her kind is by staging more competitions, particularly for younger age brackets. “It is odd that some of us who have been playing for long are still the best. The fact is these days, children train without competitions, they lack the desired exposure and there are no sufficient equipment. If they are given adequate exposure, the sky will be the limit for these kids.”

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