December 2, 2021

TrustTV

documenting the nigerian story…

Offiong Edem: Qualifying for fourth Olympics my most special moment

One of the poster girls of Nigeria table tennis, Offiong Edem has said qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, which is going to be her fourth appearance at the world’s largest games is a special moment. In this interview with Trust Sports, the highly talented Cross River born ping pong star spoke on what she is doing to achieve podium appearance in Tokyo, how she has benefitted from the game and what she is doing to support upcoming table tennis players in her state of origin.

 

Having qualified for your fourth Olympics appearance, what should Nigerians expect from you in Tokyo?

Playing at that level is not an easy task. It is usually a gathering of the best players in the different games. However, I am hoping for the best outing because I will give all my best at the Olympics games. I am also happy that the Tokyo Olympics is going to be my fourth appearance in the world’s biggest games.

How much support are you getting from the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTF) , the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC) and Cross River state government as you prepare for the Tokyo Olympics?

The International Table Tennis Federation has been my pillar.  The National Olympics Committee has also extended good support to help me achieve my goals. I thank them immensely. The table tennis federation has been amazing in its support as well. However, I want to be recognised in my own state.   I want to meet with my Governor.  I feel neglected despite taking the name of the state to the global stage. I really long to meet Sir Ben Ayade.  I’m still hoping that someday I will have the opportunity to stand beside him.

Are there any opponents who have remained hard nuts for you to crack?. How are you preparing to overcome such opponents?

The game of table tennis, like other sports, is blessed with so many talented players. Nobody gets to the top without having to overcome stiff opposition. My case is not different. I can say yes, Dina the Egyptian. She’s a world-class player and also a wonderful person. I’m also having a hard time playing against her because she’s a left-handed player. She is not the only one. There are other talented players that have remained my strong competitors.

You are not getting younger. Is this going to be your last Olympics Games?

I don’t think so because we have Paris 2024 coming up and it is by the corner. I will work harder to be there. However, first things first. When I am done with Tokyo 2020, I will then shift attention to Paris 2024. By the special grace of God, I will be there for a fifth appearance.

How satisfied are you with the development of the game of table tennis in Cross River state?

Table Tennis is popular in Nigeria but in Cross River State, it’s not very popular maybe because it is an indoor sport. I, therefore, believe that the game needs more publicity.  That’s why I am doing my own bit to propagate the sport in Cross River. I am trying to take it to the grassroots. I want the people of Cross River to come out and enjoy the game of table tennis.

What is your Table Tennis Foundation doing to discover and develop more players?

We are doing a lot. The Foundation is going to help those young talented children, who are full of dreams.  The Offiong Edem Foundation is going to help them achieve their dreams. I could feel the excitement on their faces during the last empowerment event. Their excitement gives me so much joy. It is gratifying to know that you can put smiles on the faces of other people. This has always been my dream. I’m glad it has come to pass. We shall continue to nurture budding talents.

How would you rate the standard of the game in Spain where you are based?

Wow! It’s very tough playing in the Spanish super division (female). It’s very competitive. I enjoy playing alongside the top 50 best players in the world. It is an opportunity worth celebrating.

Did you at any time regret your decision to play professional table tennis?

I don’t have any regrets playing table tennis. All that I have acquired in life have come from table tennis. It is also my source of livelihood. It’s the best thing that has happened in my life. I have been to so many places in the world. I started from Bayside in Calabar South but I am now traversing the world.

What is your happiest moment in table tennis?

I have had so many happy moments but I will say the happiest is when I qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. I didn’t have a single time for myself. I started working towards the Olympics qualifications tournament immediately after the All Africa Games in Morocco 2019. However, I was able to make it. Therefore, it is a special moment for me.

How much support have you enjoyed from your family?

I have received so much support from them. I am from a family of eight.  My parents are strong Christians and I do my best to emulate them. Dad passed on three years ago. May his soul continue to rest in the bosom of the Lord. Mum is still with us. My other siblings are doing well in their various homes. It’s just sad that I’m the only one who is into sports but I quite understand that everyone mustn’t be the same. I’m grateful.