Veteran Olympian Funke Oshonaike on Monday suffered another defeat at the ongoing 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja, when she was sent packing 4-3 in the quarter-finals of the women’s singles table tennis event by unknown youngster Nimota Aregbesola from Lagos State.
Oshonaike and another veteran player, Segun Toriola, representing Akwa Ibom State, had on Sunday crashed out in the mixed doubles event to Team Oyo 12-10, 7-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8 in the last eight.
Pundits had given the match to seven-time Olympian Oshonaike, but Aregbesola,a product of the Lagos State grassroots sports developmental programme, had other ideas, as she conjured some magical displays to record the biggest upset of the Abuja 2018 so far, and advance to the semi-finals of the competition.
Even after the titanic battle, the Ikorodu-born Aregbesola is still in dreamland.
“I can’t believe that I won this match. Am I dreaming? I never thought I could beat her when we started the game. The joy in me knows no bounds because beating a star player like Funke Oshonaike at this stage of my table tennis career is a big achievement which I will savour for a long time to come,” the emotional youngster, a runner-up at the 2018 Asoju Oba Table Tennis Championship in Lagos, said amidst tears.
“She is a player I look up to playing someday with but not to the extent of beating her. I must confess, it’s just like a dream for me.”
But the 43-year-old Oshonaike, who is based in Germany, dismissed criticisms that she was too old to compete at the Games, and should have given younger players the chance to showcase their skills at the event.
“Nobody can tell me which competition to compete in as long as my body is still active to play. People were saying why did I come for the festival? Let me say that I enjoy playing at the festival and it’s not a big deal that I lost out in the quarter-finals. This is a game where a winner must emerge. I’m happy to be an inspiration to the younger ones. I feel fulfilled in this game and won’t bother what the critics are saying,” she said.