At 12 Years Old, Hend Zaza Is the Youngest Athlete at Tokyo Olympics

What were you doing when you were 12 years old? 

Chances are, you were ignoring your parents while playing video games or scrapping together money to go get pizza with your friends or possibly dreaming of the day your braces would be removed. Hend Zaza, however, isn’t your typical pre-teen.

The Syrian is set to be the youngest competitor at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, qualifying for the table tennis competition by winning the West Asia qualifying tournament when she was just 11 years old. To compare, we are in our thirties and had to force ourselves to go on a walk this morning.

“It is a gift for my country, my parents and all my friends,” Zaza told Marca of competing in Tokyo.

As if qualifying for the Olympics isn’t enough, Zaza is also the first Syrian table tennis player to win national titles at all levels. And she is the only female member on the six-person team competing for her home country’s fourth-ever Olympic medal.