Syrian Hend Zaza – the youngest athlete at the Tokyo Olympics at just 12 – said just reaching the Games was “an achievement” despite her loss in the preliminary round on Saturday.
Zaza, who rose to fame overnight in her war-torn country last year by qualifying for Tokyo, lost to Austria’s Liu Jia 11-4, 11-9, 11-3, 11-5 .
But Zaza, the youngest Olympian since 11-year-old Romanian Beatrice Hustiu competed in figure skating at the 1968 Winter Olympics, said she was satisfied with her performance.
“Reaching the Tokyo Olympics was already an achievement. I wasn’t asked to win, I was asked to play well, ”she told Olympics.com.
“I think I had a good performance and learned from the loss. I hope that in the next Olympics there will be something for me. “
Liu, 39, was European champion in 2005, four years before Zaza was born.
“In my eyes, I accomplished something. A 12-year-old girl playing against a 39-year-old woman and taking nine or 10 points is an achievement, ”Zaza said.
“Of course I wanted to win and win a game or two, but I hope for the next Olympics. “
Zaza had to overcome serious difficulties to reach the Olympics, where she carried the Syrian flag during the opening ceremony on Friday.
The civil war in Syria has killed an estimated 500,000 people, displaced millions of people and ravaged infrastructure since it began in 2011 with the crackdown on anti-government protests.
“The conditions in which I was training in Syria were very difficult for me, I wanted a different floor. We didn’t have such tables or preparations, ”Zaza said.
“It’s great for us to be able to play and we are able to overcome these obstacles.
“We want to show that even though we are in the middle of a war, we have to do something. “
© 2021 AFP