The 12-year-old athlete at the Tokyo Olympics: Hend Zaza

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Throughout the history of the Olympic Games, there have been numerous examples of supremely talented young people making an enormous impact on the world stage.

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The Tokyo Olympics will see a continuation of that trend, as 12-year-old prodigy Hend Zaza prepares to make her Olympics debut.

The Syrian table tennis star booked her ticket to the Olympics back in February 2020, as she defeated 42-year-old Mariana Sahakian of Lebanon in the Asian qualification stages.

She is the first Syrian table tennis player to win national titles at all levels, and she now looks ahead to competing in Tokyo this summer.

It is a gift for my country, my parents and all my friends,” Zaza said.

As with other Syrian children, much of Zaza‘s childhood has been marked by the Syrian civil war, and although she has found table tennis to be an escape, the war has always remained present.

Constant power cuts have caused a number of her training sessions to be postponed, as they take place indoors in a room with four run-down tables and a rickety floor, but even that has not diminished her unstoppable desire to be an Olympic medal-winning table tennis player.

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