The African female table-tennis champion, Funke Oshonaike, has been edged out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after losing 4-1 during her preliminary round match against United States of America (USA) Juan Liu, in the singles category.
Oshonaike, who became the first African woman to qualify for seven Olympic Games, could not break her opponent effectively during the five sets played at the Tokyo Metropolitan.
The outcome of the encounter wasn’t the kind of record-breaking Oshonaike would have wished for at the Mundial after becoming the first woman in Table Tennis history to participate in her seventh Olympics.
Oshonaike, who made her Olympics debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games held in USA, did put up a fight in the first game and ended the encounter at 11-7 in favour of her opponent.
Liu made light work of the second and third sets winning 11-3, 11-4 respectively, and increased it to 3-0, but the 46-year-old Oshonaike took the 4th game 13-11, before Liu wrapped up the win during the last set.
With the match against 36-year-old Liu, the Nigerian table tennis player became the first woman to join the exclusive International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) ‘Club of 7’ of players to have competed at seven Olympic Games.
Another tennis player, Offiong Edem, would also be competing in the women’s singles table tennis event as she takes on Hungary’s Dora Madarasz at noon on Saturday.
Aside from Oshonaike, another Nigeria, Uche Eke would also be making history as the first Nigerian to ever compete in the gymnastics event of the Olympics.
Eke’s first event in the men’s artistic gymnastics event would be the vault and other athletes he would be up against were Wai Hung Shek from Hong Kong, Daniel Corral of Mexico, and Armenian Artur Davtyan. Others are Canada’s Rene Cournoyer and David Huddleston of Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, in the Rowing event, Nigeria’s Esther Toko did not progress to the quarterfinals of the women’s Singles Sculls event, having finished 4th in heat 2 of the Repechage clocking a time of 9:07.54.
Toko needed to at least finish in the top 2 of her heat to get a passage to the quarterfinal round, but this would be a valuable experience for the young Nigerian Rower who is competing in her first Olympics, and should return for Paris 2024.