Olufunke Oshonaike may be making her last appearance at the global showpiece when the 2019 ITTF World Championship serves off in Budapest, Hungary next month, having made her debut at the 1991 edition in Chiba, Japan.
The five-time Olympian said she would not give up on featuring in her sixth Olympic Games, but insisted: “I think this might be last world championship in the singles because my aim is to play at the next Olympic Games in Japan where I will then call it quit.
“But I must admit it would not be easy leaving a sport that you have played for more than three decades. Table tennis has impacted my life positively and everything I had achieved in life the most of it has been through the sport.
“My first outing was in Chiba, Japan in 1991 when I played alongside great African players like Atanda Musa. I was so small and I would forget every moment in Japan that year being a teenager then. But my cherished moment was at the 2015 edition in China where I played against the eventual champion- Ning Ding of China, in the first round. That day was my birthday and I enjoyed playing against the best player in the moment. This was a rare experience that not every player will have but I played against Ning Ding which is one of the excitements of playing at the World Championship.”
Oshonaike, who is regarded as the most successful female table tennis player in Africa, said she hopes to advance to the main draw in Hungary as this would decide her outing in the competition.
“I want to first of all qualify from the group and see what next I can do in the competition,” she added.
Oshonaike described the world championship as a unique competition that gives players the ample chance to play against some of the world’s best.
“World Championship is a unique competition because it allows players to play against one another in same competition unlike the Olympic Games and World Cup where only the best compete. So every moment in the competition is cherish and that is why it is the dream of every player to compete at the world championship,” Oshonaike said.