LIFE / CULTURE
Youngest Syrian table tennis player in Olympic history to head to China for training
Published: Aug 03, 2021 06:55 PM
Syria's table tennis player Hind Zaza poses for a picture during the local clubs championship in the Syrian capital Damascus on March 13, 2020. Zaza, 12, qualified to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after gaining the gold medal in the Asian championships in her category and was expected to be the youngest participant. Photo:VCG

Syria's table tennis player Hind Zaza poses for a picture during the local clubs championship in the Syrian capital Damascus on March 13, 2020. Zaza, 12, qualified to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after gaining the gold medal in the Asian championships in her category and was expected to be the youngest participant. Photo:VCG



Syria's 12-year-old table tennis athlete Hend Zaza will come to China for professional training, China Central Television (CCTV) said in a report on Tuesday. The young athlete just finished her first trip to the Olympic Games after losing a match in Tokyo. 

At the invitation of the Chinese Olympic Committee, the youngest table tennis Olympian in history will come to China for training in September, according to CCTV.

"I'm looking forward to training abroad. I want to make progress and take the championship one day," Zaza told CCTV, while talking about her trip to China. 

"I want to reach the same level as the Chinese team has, and I'm looking forward to having the same training as the Chinese team."

On July 24, the young Zaza lost her match to Chinese-Austrian athlete Liu Jia 4-0 during the preliminaries, wrapping up her first Olympic performance. Zaza's competitor Liu praised her performance in an interview with CCTV, calling Zaza a talented athlete who needs a "proper cultivation."

"It is just amazing for her to achieve something like this at such a young age. But she needs a better condition [for training]. I really hope there are international organizations that can provide her with a better training base," said Liu.

After her match with Liu, Zaza told CCTV that she wanted to win and bring victory to Syria. "I want to be better and stronger at Paris 2024." 

Yet according to Zaza's coach, the young athlete can only participate in international matches three times a year due to a lack of funds stemming from the war in Syria.

In 2011, complaints about high unemployment and corruption led to severe violence inside Syria. As the violence rapidly escalated, the country descended into a civil war that still rages today. According to Zaza, as long as she can remember she found it difficult to go to school or play outside, let alone train for her chosen sport. 

Yet Zaza still insisted on training three hours a day, six days a week, even though she lacked a racket and balls, according to the CCTV interview. In 2020, the 11-year-old Zaza's persistence paid off as she won entry to the Tokyo Games.

Zaza has previously told media that Chinese world champion table tennis athlete Ding Ning is her idol. Ding once posted on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo in 2020 that she was looking forward to meeting Zaza in China soon.

"Table tennis has taught me to be strong and confident. I've learned to be patient, and be a better person," Zaza told CCTV.

Global Times
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