Syria’s 12-year-old Hend Zaza, the youngest athlete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has been eliminated from competition following her loss in a preliminary round match.
Zaza fell to Austria’s 39-year-old Liu Jia in straight sets: 4-11, 9 – 11, 3 – 11, 5 – 11. Though the pre-teen held a 6-2 lead during the second game — potentially turning the tables — the Austrian veteran managed to overcome the deficit.
“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,” Zaza told reporters following her defeat.
“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,” she added.
The Syrian is the youngest table tennis athlete to ever compete at the Olympics, and only the second table tennis player from her country to compete at an Olympic level.