TOKYO, July 24 (Reuters) – Syria’s Hend Zaza, at 12 the youngest athlete competing at the Tokyo Olympics, exited the table tennis tournament in the opening round on Saturday, snapping a selfie with her Austrian opponent to remember the occasion.
Zaza was battling an opponent more than three times her age in 39-year-old Liu Jia in the women’s singles preliminary round but showed no sign of nerves, maintaining her composure despite a 4-0 defeat.
“It was very tough to mentally be prepared for (the Olympics) but I think I somehow managed to overcome this, and this is the part that I think I did the best during the match,” Zaza told reporters after the match.
“The main lesson was losing this match, especially in the first match. So next time, I will be working hard to pass the first, second, third round, because I want to play more in this competition,” she added.
Liu, who has a 10-year-old daughter, said she struggled to sleep on the eve of what she described as “a match between two flag bearers”.
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