Hend Zaza: Youngest Talent in the Tokyo Olympics

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As Tokyo2020 Olympics Game has begun in full enthusiasm, one of the youngest Table Tennis Olympians, Hend Zaza, is making history. She is an absolute inspiration to all the young and budding athletes around the world.

This season of the 2020 Summer Olympics began with a magnificent opening ceremony. The highlight of the ceremony was the traditional Parade of Nations. 

The parade showed proud representatives of different countries marching with their country’s flags. 

The most awe-inspiring moment in the entire ceremony was when a 12-year-old girl holding the Syrian flag in her hand marched in the parade. 

This young girl was the Syrian Table-Tennis player, Hend Zaza. 

Hend A. R. Zaza is from the Syrian city of Hama and was born in January of 2009. Zaza was discovered by Coach Adham Jumaan when she was only five years old.

 She was playing ping pong with her brother Obeida, who was a junior national tennis table champion at the time. 

While the conditions in Hama are far from ideal, in a hall with only four relatively old tables, a concrete floor with frequent power outages, the training is dependent on sunlight. 

Guided by her coach Aljamaan, Hend Zaza is playing for the Al-Muhafaza Table Tennis Club in Damascus. 

She also became the first Syrian player to win national titles in all four categories in which she was eligible: hopes, cadets, juniors, and seniors. 

From Syria, she travelled to participate in several ITTF Regional and Continental Hopes Weeks. 

The first visit to Qatar to participate and victory in West Asia Hopes Challenge in Saudi Arabia in January this year meant qualification in the Asia Hopes Week. 

At 11 years old, Zaza is still amongst the younger World Hopes athletes.

 A regular at the event since the first time, she might have to miss this year’s qualification to the World Hopes Week and Challenge, as another event might take precedence for Zaza – the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Eva Jeler, the ITTF expert on duty, had said about her; “I have rarely seen a player at the age of 11 play with such joy and train with such dedication and intensity as Hend Zaza. 

She would never walk to pick up the ball – she always ran. 

While her technique needed and still needs improvements, her determination, resilience, and will to play and win are (almost) a guarantee for future success.” 

In The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

On 26th February, at the Western Asia Olympic Qualification Tournament in the Jordanian capital city of Amman, Hend Zaza qualified for the women’s singles event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to become the youngest table tennis athlete in Olympic Games history. 

Her words after her qualification showed how she is an athlete fuelled by humility and maturity way beyond her age. 

She said, “It’s a gift to my country Syria, my parents and all my friends.”

On the first day of the Olympics, she stood against a seasoned veteran on the biggest sporting stage in the world, another step forward in pursuit of her ultimate goals. 

Despite her loss, Hend tried to maintain her composure throughout the match and even expressed her intent to come back even stronger in the next Olympics season. 

The 39-year-old former European Champion Liu Jio walked over to her and offered a hug after the match ended. 

The young Syrian athlete managed to take a selfie with her Austrian opponent to remember the occasion.

 Despite her comfortable win, Liu praised her young opponent, saying: “There’s the sport, and there’s life. 

Some athletes have to endure a lot of difficulties. They are unique; it hasn’t been an easy path for them. She’s a girl too, and to be in an Olympics at 12; in my heart, I admire her.”

Sports Is A Hope For Zaza

The Chinese Olympic Committee invited Zara to train in China once the coronavirus pandemic restrictions reduce.

To this, she said, “For the last five years, I have been through several different experiences, especially when there was the war happening around the country, and the postponement with funding for the Olympics, it was very tough,” she said. “But I had to fight for it. 

My only message to everyone who has the same experience is- Fight for your dreams, try hard, regardless of the difficulties you have, and you will reach your goal.”

After Zaza lost the match to Liu Jio, she said, “I will not stop playing table tennis. 

This sport is my whole life. I have spent all my time playing it, other than playing table tennis I study.

 I’m working hard for the future, to be a world champion and an Olympic champion, and to be a pharmacist or lawyer with my studies.”

Despite the obstacles that came her way or will come her way, Hend Zaza is sure of one thing. She will work her best to grow as an athlete for her country. 

The best part about her journey so far is that this young bundle of energy has a kind of positivity about her, which makes her passion for Table Tennis more hopeful for the future of Syria. 

Aditi Tripathi
Aditi Tripathi
“Words are mere allies, it's the thought that needs attention.” Aditi Tripathi is a creative and driven writer/journalist, blogger, content writer. She has experience in SEO-optimized content curation, expertise in producing, proofreading, and developing quality material. With a keen interest in exploring different mediums, she has written for various digital platforms. She has written in various communication formats, including feature articles, headlines, blogs, and podcasts. Her social media pages are an extension of her visionary and creative expression. She has a passion for reading books, often contemplating at length the themes, characters, and psychology of the author, which reflects her personality and body of work.

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