THE Olympics’ youngest competitor has crashed out of the Tokyo Games in the preliminary round of the women’s table tennis event.
Team Syria star Hend Zaza, 12, lost in straight sets against Austrian opponent Liu Jia who is 27 years her senior.
Chinese-born athlete Jia, 39, won 11-4, 11-9, 11-3, 11-5 to secure her place in the first round.
But Zaza, who is the youngest Olympian since Spanish rower Carlos Front in 1992, more than held her own.
She was even leading 6-2 in the second set, only for the veteran player to show her class.
Speaking after her Olympics debut, Zaza said: “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.
“The main lesson was the loss of 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.”
Zaza – the fifth-youngest person to compete in the Olympics in the modern era – secured her entry at Tokyo after winning West Asia Olympic qualification tournament in Jordan last year.
OLYMPICS BETTING SPECIAL: GET ADAM PEATY TO WIN ANY MEDAL IN THE BREASTROKE AT 20/1
Her coach Adham Jamaan has stated she has only been able to play up to three external games a year due to the Syrian Civil War.
Commenting on her upbringing, Zada remarked: “For the last five years, I’ve been through many different experiences.
“Especially with the war happening around the country and the postponement of the funding for the Olympics.
“It was very tough, but I had to fight for it. And this is my message to everyone who is in the same situation — fight for your dream.
“Try hard regardless of the difficulties that you’re having and you will reach your hope.”
322 total views, 2 views today