Hend Zaza chats with her friends in Damascus, Syria on August 5, 2021. Fascinated by their fast movements and sonic rhythm, Hend Zaza, 12, a Syrian table tennis player and the youngest athlete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, aspires to learn from its Chinese counterparts. (Photo by Ammar Safarjalani / Xinhua)
DAMASCUS, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) – Fascinated by their fast movements and sonic rhythm, Hend Zaza, 12, a Syrian table tennis player and youngest athlete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, longs to learn from her Chinese counterparts.
As the youngest table tennis player at the Tokyo Olympics, Zaza caught the attention of the world. She lost to Austrian player Liu Jia, 39, in straight sets in the women’s singles preliminary round.
“It’s very difficult, but I had to fight for it. This is my message to everyone in the same situation – fight for your dream, and try hard no matter what difficulties you face. , you will achieve your goal, ”Zaza mentioned.
Zaza told Xinhua that Ma Long and Ding Ning, two famous Chinese table tennis players, are her favorites, and that she wants to be like them someday.
“They have very fast movements and rotations, and I tried to learn their movements from the video,” she said, adding that she wanted to attend the training camp in China.
After his return to Syria, the table tennis prodigy took care of training to participate in an upcoming table tennis championship which will soon be held in Jordan.
However, she feared she would not be able to make her trip, as the road to the neighboring country was blocked by recent skirmishes between the military and local gunmen in Daraa province, southern Syria.
The tough training conditions in Syria have affected many players in Zaza’s squad, as many of them only have to share four ping-pong tables and a bag of balls. There aren’t even any shooting bullet machines or new rackets for these players.
Muhammad Ogli, one of Zaza’s coaches, told Xinhua that the economic situation and the sanctions have largely affected the sports ground in Syria.
The spread of COVID-19 has also cast a shadow over the sports life of players as they cannot easily attend external training camps, he added.
Ali Hallaq, another coach, said that in the situation in Syria, Zaza persevered to fulfill his dream of playing in an international arena.
“She has strong ambition,” Hallaq told Xinhua, adding that the match in Tokyo was the crowning achievement of Zaza, her persistence and effort.
“It is a very important achievement for a 12-year-old to participate in such an international championship among the major players,” he said.
Despite the crisis and the war, Zaza believes that “nothing is impossible, and the athletes must train and always have a dream”. Final element