Olympics: 11-Year-Old Syrian Table Tennis Player Qualifies for Tokyo Event

An 11-year-old table tennis player named Hend Zaza will be making history this summer after qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo. She will be one of the youngest competitors in Olympics history and will be the first Syrian, male or female, to compete in table tennis. The event has no minimum age requirement.

Zaza qualified after defeating 42-year-old Mariana Sahakian of Lebanon 4-3. This victory gave her the women's singles title and the spot in the upcoming Olympics. She entered the competition ranked 155th in the world, per CNN.

"Wow! This is sooooo great. Congratulations #hendzaza," one Twitter user wrote after seeing the news. Making it to the Olympics is a massive accomplishment, and the fans wanted to applaud Zaza for achieving this goal.

"Well done Hend! What an amazing accomplishment!" another user wrote in response. Several individuals expressed concern about whether or not the Olympics will take place this summer due to the coronavirus, but they were still happy that Zaza had qualified.

According to NBC Sports, Zaza will be the fifth-youngest competitor in the history of the Olympics and the youngest since Romanian figure skater Beatrice Hustiu competed in 1968. The youngest documented competitor is Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who competed at the first modern Games in Athens in 1896 and won bronze in the team parallel bars at the age of 10 years and 218 days.

In 1928, Italy's Luigina Giavotti the team gymnastics event. She was 11 years and 302 days old at the time.

Zaza will be the youngest competitor at this summer's games despite the presence of 11-year-old skateboarder Sky Brown. The British competitor took bronze at last summer's world championships and will turn 12 prior to the opening ceremony in Tokyo.

Saudi Arabia's Ali Alkhadrawi secured the men's singles titles during the 2020 West Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Amman, Jordan. He and Zaza will both compete in individual events during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.


Zaza is scheduled to compete when the women's singles table tennis tournament begins. The preliminary rounds will take place on July 25, and the finals will be held on July 30.

(Photo Credit: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)