The Tokyo Olympics, which witnessed countless miracles of hard work, are over. Athletes prove with persistence, hard work, hard work, optimism, especially for those struggling in conflict and hardship, that the Olympic movement is a ray of light in the dark.
She was the first table tennis player in Syria to win an Olympic seat through qualifying, the youngest competitor at the Tokyo Olympics and the youngest table tennis player in Olympic history. She is Hend Zaza, a Syrian table tennis player.
Zaza’s Olympic journey was short-lived, losing in the first match to Liu Jia, a 39-year-old Austrian of Chinese descent. However, the 12-year-old made history when she stood in Tokyo.
Since winning tickets to the Tokyo Olympics last year, Zaza has become a household name in Syria, bringing excitement and anticipation to the beleazard country. At the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the head-scratching, tall Zaza joined another male athlete as the flag bearer for the Syrian delegation. Syrian President Bashar al-Bashar called Zaza after the game to express his pride on behalf of the Syrian people.
As an athlete who grew up in difficult circumstances, Zaza felt that being able to participate in the Olympic Games was a gain in itself, through which she broadened her horizons and accumulated experience. “This is my first time to participate in an international competition, the first time I have seen such a big stadium, the atmosphere of the Olympic Games is so different from my usual training environment.”
Zaza was born in the central Syrian city of Hama, where table tennis is popular. Since growing up playing with his brother, who is a table tennis player, Zaza is also fascinated by playing table tennis. A national team coach came to Hama to watch the ball, a glimpse of the physical and responsive Zaza, she was selected into the national team. Just seven months later, Zaza was runner-up in the Syrian Junior Table Tennis Championships. Zaza has become a talented player in Syrian table tennis, with success in domestic and regional events.
The haze of war lasted almost through Zaza’s childhood, allowing her to learn to be strong early. The decade-long crisis in Syria has put the development of table tennis, which Zaza loves, in jeopardy.
Zaza’s coach, Mohammed O’Gurley, told reporters that Syrian athletes had difficulty training or competing abroad because of financial constraints and visa restrictions, and lacked the opportunity to improve their skills and tactics. In a tough economy, buying expensive training equipment is also a heavy burden for the team.
The day after returning from Tokyo, Zaza went into intensive training for the upcoming Arab table tennis tournament in Jordan.
Reporters followed Zaza to the Syrian national ping-pong team training ground, found that the conditions here are really difficult: the small stadium only put down 4 tables, the players for 1-on-1 training, other players can only wait on the side;
In recent days, the military conflict in southern Syria, the road to Jordan was blocked, the team can go ahead as scheduled to participate in the game is still unknown. But Zaza and his teammates still train for seven hours a day, playing in the morning and at night, while the highest daytime temperatures are used for rest adjustment.
In the face of all the difficulties, Zaza did not complain, but full of spirit:“Despite the crisis our country is going through, we still have the ability to do whatever we want.” As long as you insist, you can realize your dream. ”
Zaza attends a training session with the Syrian National Table Tennis Team in Damascus, Syria, Aug. Xinhua News Agency (Photo by Amar Safar-Jalani)
In the Olympic arena, Zaza will watch the Chinese team play, and use his mobile phone to capture the Chinese athletes playing pictures, observe and learn their swing, rotation.
“The Chinese team is a model for all table tennis players.” Zaza said. Her favorite Chinese male athlete is Malone and her favorite Chinese female athlete is Ding Ning. Speaking of meeting “idol” Malone during the Olympic Games, the little girl’s face smiled and blossomed.
On the future planning, she expressed the hope to go to China to participate in training ideas. “My desire now is to be as good as the Chinese athletes and try to get results at the 2024 Olympics.”