Hend Zaza is also the first Syrian to compete at the Olympic table tennis tourney

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo from ITTF High Performance and Development/Facebook

At just 11 years old, Hend Zaza from Syria became one of the youngest Olympians in history after defeating 42-year-old Mariana Sahakian (4-3) in the West Asia Olympic qualification tournament in Amman, Jordan last Feb. 26. 

Zaza, who was born on Jan. 1, 2009, is currently ranked 155th in the world. She will be the youngest athlete, male or female, competing at this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Interestingly, Zaza could face off with one of the oldest participants in the Olympics, Ni Xia Lian, a 57-year-old Chinese-born and five-time Olympian who represents Luxembourg. 

Zaza also joins a prestigious list of young athletes who have participated in the world’s largest sporting event. According to Olympic records, Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras won bronze at 10-years-old in Athens 1896 while Italian gymnast Luigina Giavotti took home a silver medal at the age of 11 in 1928. Zaza can make history by being the youngest table tennis player to win a medal in the Olympics. 

The Olympic women’s singles table tennis tournament is scheduled on Jul. 25. 

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