Syria's 12-year-old table tennis athlete Hend Zaza will come to China for professional training, China Central Television(CCTV) said in a report on Tuesday. The young athlete just finished her first trip to the Olympic Games after losing a match in Tokyo.
On hearing that Hend Zaza wishes to come to China for training, the Chinese Olympic Committee immediately invited her, helping to fulfill her wishes. She will arrive in September.
"I'm looking forward to training abroad. I want to make progress and take the championship one day," Zaza told CCTV.
"I want to reach the same level as the Chinese team does, and I'm looking forward to having the same training as the Chinese team."
On July 24, the young Zaza lost her match to Chinese-Austrian athlete Liu Jia 4-0 during the preliminaries. Although Zaza had hoped for a better showing, the loss capped a whirlwind trip. The night before her match, she was a flag bearer for Syria at the opening ceremony. A late night, plus the lingering six-hour jet lag, meant that she barely slept — not great preparation against Liu, who is making her sixth Olympic appearance.
"I was hoping for a winning match and for better play, but it's a tough opponent so it's a good lesson for me, especially with the first Olympics," Zaza said through an interpreter. "I will work on it to get a better result next time, hopefully."
Still, with her long hair bouncing as she did around the table, Zaza showed ability that impressed her seasoned opponent.
"I had to remind myself not to underestimate her," Liu said. She called Zaza "a great talent" with good rhythm and instincts who simply needed more experience.
In 2011, complaints about high unemployment and corruption led to severe violence inside Syria. As the violence rapidly escalated, the country descended into a civil war that still rages today. Zaza said as long as she can remember she found it difficult to go to school or play outside, let alone train for her chosen sport. At 12 years and 204 days, Zaza became the youngest table tennis player ever to compete in the Olympics.
Zaza has previously told media that Chinese world champion table tennis athlete Ding Ning is her idol and she hoped that she could play with Ding Ning one day. Ding once posted on Weibo in 2020 that she was looking forward to meeting Zaza in China soon.
"Table tennis has taught me to be strong and confident. I've learned to be patient, and be a better person," Zaza said.
With a yearning for world peace, Zaza said that participating in the Olympics is not her ultimate goal. She hopes that the small white ball in her hands can deliver a message of peace. She also hopes that Syria will stop the war and usher in peace as soon as possible, and every child will be able to chase their dreams freely.
Seeing Zaza's story, netizens said that we should cherish the precious peace and praise for everyone to pursue their dreams.
"Since we live in peace, it may be hard for us to put ourselves in the position of the Syrian girl. We should never take peace for granted. Thanks to the peace, we can have street snacks in the middle of the night, jog in the park in the early morning, and don't have to worry about being robbed at the cash machine. These are things to cherish in today's world."
"Best wishes for every person who goes for their dreams."
"It's truly not easy for her to attend the Olympic Games if she lives in Syria."
"One side is war-torn Syria while the other side is the Olympic Games standing for peace, alas!"
来源：China Daily 微信公众号