African women exit singles event at Rio

OluFunke Oshonaike

It was not a good day for African players competing in the women’s singles of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as most of them were shown the exit in the first round of the competition.

In the preliminary it was continental affair between Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Tunisia’s Safa Saidani but it was African champion – Meshref that progress to the first round after a 4-0 (12-10, 11-1. 13-11, 11-6) over the Tunisian debutant.

However, Nigeria’s duo of Olufunke Oshonaike and Edem Offiong and Congo Brazzaville’s Han Xing claimed victories over their opponents.

It was an easy win for Edem Offiong who walloped Fiji’s Sally Yee 4-0 (11-3, 11-8, 11-3, 11-2) while Han Xing also repeated same win over Philippi’s Ian Lariba with a 4-0 (11-7, 13-11, 11-9, 11-7) bashing.

Despite recording a 4-3 win, Olufunke Oshonaike would not forget in a hurry what nearly caused her an early exit as she squandered a 3-1 lead and it took experience for her to overcome Libya’s Mariana Sahakian  with a 4-3 (8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8).

The quartet of Dina Meshref (Egypt), Olufunke Oshonaike (Nigeria), Han Xing (Congo Brazzaville) and Edem Offiong (Nigeria) joined Nadeen El-Dawlatly (Egypt) in the first round.

But they all fell to their opponents in the first round with Dina Meshref losing 4-1 to Thailand’s KOMWONG Nanthana, while Han Xing also surrendered to Thailand’s SAWETTABUT Suthasini  4-3.

Olufunke Oshonaike fell to Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz 4-2, while Edem Offiong was edged out by Belarus’ PAVLOVICH Viktoria 4-1. Nadeen El-Dawlatly who unlike others started her campaign in the first round was not match to Hungary’s Petra Lovas 4-0 to exit the singles event.

Olufunke Oshonaike, who was Team Nigeria’s flagbearer during the opening ceremony admitted after managing to win her preliminary match that, ‘I’m so tired, I don’t know where I am. I didn’t get to bed until after 2.00am this morning, I feel like a bomb has hit me. Experience got me through today. I could not focus, I could not concentrate but I carried the Nigerian flag, I am through to the first round, I’m so happy!”

Also the only male player that failed to play in the first round is Egypt’s Khaled Assar who was beaten 4-3 in the preliminary round by Congo Brazzaville’s Jianan Wang.

Meanwhile, Egypt still has another chance in the team event as the Egyptian ladies will battle against Singapore in the first round of the women’s team event on August 12.