Morocco, Oct 31, 2016: Olufunke OSHONAIKE (NGR) has become the Women’s African champion an amazing 24 years after she first won the title.
The 41-year-old Nigerian veteran first won the African title in 1992 and her last triumph came in 2002 before her triumph on Sunday 30 October 2016 at the ITTF-Africa Championships in Agadir, Morocco.
OSHONAIKE faced younger opponent Dina MESHREF (EGY) who has dominated African table tennis in the previous years in the Women’s Singles final. It was OSHONAIKE who made the better start, moving ahead 2-0, before MESHREF responded to bring the score level to 2-2. However, age proved to be just a number as OSHONAIKE won game five and six to clinch the title 11-7, 13-11, 5-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7.
After winning the emotional title, OSHONAIKE stated: “This victory means a lot to me that I can still become African champion despite my age. It shows that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. I feel great and I am so excited that I can still do it and this is also an inspiration for girls that no matter your age, you can achieve whatever you want to in life.”
In the Men’s Singles, Omar ASSAR (EGY) won the African title for the second time in a row.
The Men’s Singles finals matchup between Omar ASSAR (EGY) and Quadri ARUNA (NGR) was also one that many were looking forward to due to ARUNA’s historic run to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games quarterfinal.
The match did not disappoint, with the African superstars producing a seven games epic thriller, where ASSAR was able to hold his nerve to win 10-12, 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-9.
After claiming his second consecutive title, ASSAR stated: “It was really a crazy match because against Quadri, it is always very exciting. I gave my 100 percent concentration and I was listening more to my coach, Ashraf HELMY. I think ARUNA played very well because he was always changing service and he was more aggressive on his forehand. I am so happy retaining the title and I hope I can play better than this in future tournaments.”
ARUNA did not go home empty-handed, teaming up with Nigerian teammate Segun TORIOLA (NGR) to defeat the Egyptian pair Lashin EL-SAYED and Ahmed ALI SALEH (EGY) to clinch the Men’s Doubles title.
Egypt dominated the Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles events with Dina MESHREF partnering her cousin Yousra HELMY to win the Women’s Doubles title, and also winning the Mixed Doubles event with Omar ASSAR.
Egypt completed a memorable African Championships by claiming both the Men’s & Women’s Team titles to add to their success in the individual events.
All attention now turned to the 2016 ITTF World Tour Hybiome Austrian Open, to be held on 9-13 November 2016 in Linz, Austria. —- ITTF