11-Year-Old Girl Becomes Youngest Person To Qualify for Olympics in Over 50 Years


An 11-year-old table tennis player is set to become one of the youngest athletes to compete in the Olympic games in over 50 years.

Hend Zaza from Syria qualified for the Tokyo Games by winning the West Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Jordan last week, according to NBC Sports.

She beat 42-year-old Lebanese player Mariana Sahakian in the women’s singles event to qualify for the spot in the games.

Table tennis is one of the Olympic sports without an age minimum.

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According to the Olympic Committee, it is up to each International Sports Federation to set an age limit and rules for the sports.

Born on Jan. 1, 2009, Zaza will be the youngest Olympic competitor since Romanian figure skater Beatrice Hustiu and the fifth-youngest in Olympic history.

The youngest documented Olympic medalist was 10-year-old Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras who competed in the first modern Games in Athens in 1896, according to the International Olympic Committee.

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Loundras won a bronze medal in the team parallel bars.

Zaza will also be the first Syrian ever to compete at an Olympic table tennis event, the New York Post reported.

She is ranked No. 155 internationally, according to CNN.

The Syrian Olympic Committee congratulated Zaza on its Facebook page.

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The Olympic women’s singles table tennis tournament is scheduled to begin on July 25, and the final will take place on July 30.

Another 11-year-old, British skateboarder Sky Brown, is expected to qualify for the summer games but will turn 12 two weeks before the Tokyo Opening Ceremony.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith