Sports | March 7, 2020 1:45 pm

11-Year-Old Table Tennis Player Will Be One of the Youngest Olympians Ever at Tokyo 2020

The table tennis player will be the youngest Olympian this summer

Olympics Rings in Tokyo
View of the Olympic Rings installed at the Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo.
Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An 11 year old is going to make history this summer as one of the youngest Olympians of all time. Hend Zaza, a table tennis player from Syria, qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this week, after she won the West Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Jordan to book her spot.

The 11-year-old table tennis prodigy defeated Lebanese player Mariana Sahakian in the final to clinch her spot at the Olympics; Sahakian is 42 years old, a whopping 31 years older than her opponent.

Born on January 1, 2009, Zaza will be the fifth-youngest Olympian in history; the youngest ever was Dimitrios Loundras in the first modern games of 1896 at the age of 10 years and 218 days. Zaza is the youngest Olympian since 1968, when Romanian figure skater Beatrice Hustiu competed at the age of 11 years and 158 days. Zaza could become the youngest gold medalist ever if she is successful this summer; the current record is held by American diver Marjorie Gestring, who won gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics at the age of 13 years and 268 days.

Zaza will likely not be the only pre-teen at the Olympics this summer; British skateboarder Sky Brown, who will turn 12 just before the Olympics, is expected to qualify for the games after winning a bronze medal at the world championships in 2019. Though Zaza’s age will not stop her from competing in Tokyo, there are still concerns about the games due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Read the full story at NBC Sports