Veteran Nigeria table tennis player Funke Oshonaike has won the women’s singles title of the 2016 the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Senior Championships in Agadir, Morocco.
The 42-year-old defeated the 2015 champion, Egypt’s Dina Meshref, 4-2 to win the title, which had eluded her for two years.
Oshonaike, who lives in Hamburg, Germany, with her husband and their two children, needed over an hour to win the title at the expense of the African number one on Sunday, 30 October.
Oshonaike took the first two sets 11-7, 13-11, but the Egyptian came back to win the next two sets 11-5, 11-9. Oshonaike won the following two sets 11-7, 11-7.
But Nigeria failed to win the men’s singles as Africa’s number one player, Aruna Quadri, lost 4-3 to Egypt’s Omar Assar, who was the 2015 champion of the event.
Quadri, who was unbeaten in the competition before the final, could not replicate the form that led him to victory over his rival at the 2016 Africa Top 16 in Sudan.
Oshonaike said, “I knew it was going to be tough because Meshref was the African champion and had not been beaten in the last two years. I just told myself to go out there and have fun, and show my experience. When it started working I gained more confidence.
“This victory means a lot to me, that I can still become African champion, despite my age. It shows that nothing is impossible.”
Nigeria finished second on the medal table behind Egypt, who won four titles. Egypt won the men and women’s team titles as well as the women’s doubles title. They also won the men’s singles title. Nigeria however won only the men’s doubles and the women’s singles titles in Morocco. // Niran Bada