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Who are the youngest athletes to have competed at the Olympics?

Tara Lipinski
Tara Lipinski
Prakhar Sachdeo
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At the age of 11, Syrian Table Tennis player, Hend Zaza became the youngest athlete to qualify for Tokyo Olympics 2020. Hend Zaza became eligible for the upcoming Summer games when she won four of the five matches at the Western Asia Olympic Qualification Tournament in Jordan in late February, on her way to clinching the women's singles title.

Closer to home, wrestler Sonam Malik became the youngest Indian female wrestler to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as the country bagged two quota places in the Asian Olympic Games qualifiers in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Also read: Three years after battling paralysis, wrestler Sonam Malik is poised for glory at the Tokyo Olympics

As the Olympics draw closer, here's a look back at some of the athletes who have created history at the Olympic games, even in their teens and pre-teens.

Tara Lipinski

Tara Lipinski of the United States (centre)
Tara Lipinski of the United States (centre)

Tara Lipinski of the USA is a former competitive figure skater, actress and sports commentator. She competed at her first Olympics aged just 15, when she participated at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. At the age of 15 years and 255 days, Tara Lipinski became the youngest winner of an individual event in the history of the Winter Games when she clinched a silver medal in figure-skating. She thus overtook Sonja Henie's record which had till then stood for 70 years.

Dominique Moceanu

Dominique Moceanu fifth from left at 1996 Summer Games
Dominique Moceanu fifth from left at 1996 Summer Games

USA's women's gymnastics team had clinched gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The team, comprising Amanda Borden, Dominique Dawes, Amy Chow, Jaycie Phelps, Dominique Moceanu, Kerri Strug and Shannon Miller, won the gold medal in women's artistic team event.

The team was popular as The Magnificent Seven. The youngest member of the team was Dominique Moceanu, who was just 14 at the time. The gold medal made Dominique Moceanu the youngest athlete to win gold for women's gymnastics.

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Marjorie Gestring

Thirteen year old Marjorie Gestring, the youngest ever olympic Gold Medal winner with Katy Rawls, the winner of the silver medal, at the Olympic Swimming Stadium in Berlin
Thirteen year old Marjorie Gestring, the youngest ever olympic Gold Medal winner with Katy Rawls, the winner of the silver medal, at the Olympic Swimming Stadium in Berlin

The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin saw the crowning of the youngest ever Olympic gold medalist. USA's springboard diver, Marjorie Gestring, won the gold medal in 3m springboard diving at the tender age of 13. She beat fellow American Katy Rawls to script history.

Before the Olympics, at the US Trials, Gestring had come second behind Rawls. But come the final, Marjorie Gestring beat Rawls and the defending champion, Dorothy Poynton-Hill to claim the gold medal.

Kim Yun-Mi

At the 1994 Games, South Korea's Kim Yun-Mi, aged just 13 won a gold medal in the 3000m relay. With gold, Kim Yun-Mi became the youngest Olympic champion at the Winter Games. A year later, Kim Yun-Mi became the Junior World Champion and in 1998 Games Kim Yun-Mi went on to defend her title successfully.

Gaurika Singh

Gaurika Singh in action at Rio Olympics 2016
Gaurika Singh in action at Rio Olympics 2016

Nepalese swimming sensation Gaurika Singh participated at the 2016 Rio Olympics, aged only 13 years and 255 days old. She was the youngest athlete to compete at the Games. Gaurika Singh won her heat in the 100m backstroke event before missing out on the semifinals.

At the 2019 South Asian Games, Gaurika Singh clinched four golds, two silvers and one bronze. For her consistent show in the pool, Gaurika Singh was named in Forbes magazine ’30 Under 30 Asia’ list for 2021.

Also read: The sport in which India is likely to win its first-ever Olympic Medal


Edited by Diptanil Roy
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