Sports

July 10, 2024

ITTF celebrates Toriola, Oshonaike, others in Club 7 at Olympic Games

ITTF celebrates Toriola, Oshonaike, others in Club 7 at Olympic Games

With a few days to the kick-off of the table tennis event at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has re-enlivened the feat achieved by Nigeria’s duo of Segun Toriola and Olufunke Oshonaike and three others for competing in seven Olympic Games.

According to a statement released by the world table tennis ruling body, the Olympic Games is a breeding ground for legends, but within this elite company exists an even more exclusive circle – Club 7.

“These aren’t your average Olympians; they are the table tennis titans who have defied age, competition, and the odds to compete a staggering seven times on the grandest sporting stage.

“Seven Olympic appearances is a testament to an athlete’s unwavering dedication and exceptional talent. These players have dedicated years of relentless training, honing their skills to compete at the highest level. With the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the legendary Timo Boll is poised to join this elite club, further solidifying Club 7’s status as a mark of true table tennis greatness,” the world body said.

Oshonaike being the only female in the Club 7 featured at the Olympic Games in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020).

“As a true trailblazer, Oshonaike isn’t just the only woman in Club 7, she’s also the first African female player ever to achieve this feat. Her unwavering determination and fierce spirit have not only seen her represent Nigeria at every Olympics since Atlanta 1996 but also inspired countless young athletes across the continent,” ITTF stated.

For Toriola, the world body said the African Games table tennis record holder featured at the Olympic Games in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 set the pace for others to follow and he has been joined in the Club 7 by Oshonaike as a pioneer for African table tennis.

“Toriola wasn’t just a phenomenal player, but a history-maker. His exceptional footwork and powerful forehand helped him become the first African to reach the Men’s Singles quarterfinals at the Olympics (Beijing 2008), solidifying his place as a Nigerian sporting legend,” the world body stated.

Others in the league of Club 7 include Jean-Michel Saive of Belgium who attended the Olympic Games in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012.

Legendary Swedish star Jörgen Persson, described as an epitome of cool and collected, also competed at the Olympic Games in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012.  Croatia’s Zoran Primorac who represented both Yugoslavia and Croatia throughout his career, also joined the league of Club 7 having featured at the Olympic Games in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012.

“These are the gladiators who’ve graced the Olympic stage for seven editions. Their unwavering passion and dedication inspire not just table tennis players, but athletes across the globe. While some may not have secured that elusive Olympic medal, their achievements in reaching the pinnacle of the sport seven times over deserve immense recognition. They are the Club 7, and their legacy in table tennis is forever secured,” the statement added.