Hend Zaza: On Friday, she carried the Syrian flag when the Games opened
Kin Cheung / dpa
The Olympic competition was over for Hend Zaza after just 24 minutes.
And the quick end in the first round of the table tennis competition worried the youngest athlete at these summer games, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
For the twelve-year-old Syrian, taking part in Tokyo was more than just a sports event - it was a glimmer of hope after years of war.
"I had to fight for this, and this is my message to everyone who is in the same situation: fight for your dreams, stay tuned, no matter what difficulties you have, then you will achieve your goal," said Zaza after her 0 : 4 defeat in the first round against the 27 years older Austrian Liu Jia.
Started table tennis at the age of five
According to the Olympic organizers, Zaza was born on January 1, 2009 in Hama, Syria.
Accordingly, she started table tennis when she was five years old.
During the civil war, sport was often a distraction for the young girl, even if training was sometimes out of the question.
"The war affected us all," said her former coach Adham Jamaan in an interview with the AFP news agency: "The training often took place under difficult conditions, with power outages in the room in which we were stuck for hours."
Because the war in Hama destroyed a lot, Zaza now lives in the capital Damascus.
She carried the Syrian flag at the opening of the Games on Friday.
Next destination: Paris
Only four Olympians at summer and winter games were younger than Zaza.
The youngest participant in the history of the modern games, the IOC reports, is the Greek Dimitrios Loundras, who was part of the hosts' team when it was first held in Athens in 1896 at the age of ten.
In Tokyo, Zaza also beats the young skateboarders in the age ranking, including the British Sky Brown, 13, and the German Lilly Stoephasius, 14. However, she would like to go down in Olympic history as a medalist at some point, and she rated her end in Tokyo as a "teaching" for Paris, where she plans to return in 2024.
"Hopefully it will be better next time."
ngo / dpa / sid