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Syrian prodigy thrilled to receive China's help

China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-05 09:50
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Syria's Hend Zaza, 12, serves to Austria's Liu Jia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on July 24. [Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO-Syrian table tennis player Hend Zaza, the youngest athlete at the Tokyo Olympics at just 12, has been invited by China to learn from the undisputed master of the sport.

Zaza, who shot to fame overnight in her war-torn country last year by qualifying for Tokyo, was well beaten 4-0 by Austria's Liu Jia in the preliminary stage.

That brought her Olympics to an early end, but now Zaza looks like she will be heading to China-which has won men's and women's singles golds so far in Tokyo-as early as next month for training.

Zaza was invited by the Chinese Olympic Committee, according to state broadcaster CCTV, which quoted her as saying: "I look forward to training abroad so that I can make continuous progress and realize my championship dream.

"Of course, first of all, I hope to reach the level of Chinese players. My dream is to be as strong as Chinese players and I look forward to going to China and receiving the same training as them."

Zaza had to overcome serious adversity to reach the Olympics, where she carried the Syrian flag in the opening ceremony.

Syria's civil war has killed around 500,000 people, displaced millions, and ravaged infrastructure since it started in 2011.

"The conditions where I trained in Syria were a very hard thing to me, I wished for a different floor. We didn't have such tables nor such preparations," Zaza said previously.

Zaza was the youngest Olympian since 11-year-old Romanian Beatrice Hustiu competed in figure skating at the 1968 Winter Olympics.


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