Monday September 20, 2021

12-year-old Syrian athlete exits in first round of Olympics

July 25, 2021

TOKYO: Syria’s Hend Zaza, at 12 the youngest athlete competing at the Tokyo Olympics, exited the table tennis tournament in the opening round on Saturday, snapping a selfie with her Austrian opponent to remember the occasion, foreign media reported.

Zaza was battling an opponent more than three times her age in 39-year-old Liu Jia in the women's singles preliminary round but showed no sign of nerves, maintaining her composure despite a 4-0 defeat."It was very tough to mentally be prepared for (the Olympics) but I think I somehow managed to overcome this, and this is the part that I think I did the best during the match," Zaza told reporters after the match.

"The main lesson was losing this match, especially in the first match. So next time, I will be working hard to pass the first, second, third round, because I want to play more in this competition," she added. Liu, who has a 10-year-old daughter, said she struggled to sleep on the eve of what she described as "a match between two flag bearers". "Yesterday I asked my daughter, 'Do you know your mother is playing against someone two years older than you?' Her first response was, 'Then you better not lose!' "I said, 'Don't give me pressure!'