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Chinese gymnasts and age...the story that is about to explode...


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#1 bsj


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:43 AM

Every day more and more is coming out on this story...it's going to explode, and its a shame, it should have been addressed a year ago...not AFTER the events...

State-media story fuels questions on gymnast's age
By JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press Writer
46 minutes ago

BEIJING - Just nine months before the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government's news agency, Xinhua, reported that gymnast He Kexin was 13, which would have made her ineligible to be on the team that won a gold medal this week.

In its report Nov. 3, Xinhua identified He as one of "10 big new stars" who made a splash at China's Cities Games. It gave her age as 13 and reported that she beat Yang Yilin on the uneven bars at those games. In the final, "this little girl" pulled off a difficult release move on the bars known as the Li Na, named for another Chinese gymnast, Xinhua said in the report, which appeared on one of its Web sites, http://www.hb.xinhuanet.com

The Associated Press found the Xinhua report on the site Thursday morning and saved a copy of the page. Later that afternoon, the Web site was still working but the page was no longer accessible. Sports editors at the state-run news agency would not comment for publication.

If the age reported by Xinhua was correct, that would have meant she was too young to be on the Chinese team that beat the United States on Wednesday and clinched China's first women's team Olympic gold in gymnastics. She is also a favorite for gold in Monday's uneven bars final.

Yang was also on Wednesday's winning team. Questions have also been raised about her age and that of a third team member, Jiang Yuyuan.

Gymnasts have to be 16 during the Olympic year to be eligible for the games. He's birthday is listed as Jan. 1, 1992.

Chinese authorities insist that all three are old enough to compete. He herself told reporters after Wednesday's final that "my real age is 16. I don't pay any attention to what everyone says."

Zhang Hongliang, an official with China's gymnastics delegation at the games, said Thursday the differing ages which have appeared in Chinese media reports had not been checked in advance with the gymnastics federation.

"It's definitely a mistake," Zhang said of the Xinhua report, speaking in a telephone interview. "Never has any media outlet called me to check the athletes' ages."

Asked whether the federation had changed their ages to make them eligible, Zhang said: "We are a sports department. How would we have the ability to do that?"

"We already explained this very clearly. There's no need to discuss this thing again."

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has said repeatedly that a passport is the "accepted proof of a gymnast's eligibility," and that He and China's other gymnasts have presented ones that show they are age eligible. The IOC also checked the girls' passports and deemed them valid.

A May 23 story in the China Daily newspaper, the official English-language paper of the Chinese government, said He was 14. The story was later corrected to list her as 16.

"This is not a USAG issue," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "The FIG and the IOC are the proper bodies to handle this."


http://news.yahoo.co...nderage_chinese

Edited by bsj, 14 August 2008 - 08:49 AM.


#2 jkempa

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:10 AM

Every day more and more is coming out on this story...it's going to explode, and its a shame, it should have been addressed a year ago...not AFTER the events...
http://news.yahoo.co...nderage_chinese


It will be very interesting to see if this gets swept under the rug in deference to China. It's seems so obvious that these girls are so young. I don't have a problem with a 13 year old competing, but it's disappointing to the other teams that complied with the rule.

What are the odds that any medals are eventually stripped because of this?

#3 bsj


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:13 AM

It will be very interesting to see if this gets swept under the rug in deference to China. It's seems so obvious that these girls are so young. I don't have a problem with a 13 year old competing, but it's disappointing to the other teams that complied with the rule.

What are the odds that any medals are eventually stripped because of this?


I think that there will be a continued attempt to sweep it under the rug...which is what the IOC has been doing for months...but I think that more and more is going to come to light and eventually, some response will be required...

I think that, given the tenuous state of china in world affairs, the odds are virtually nil that China loses a medal or medals.

Even back when that French judge fixed the ice skating for the Russians, all that happened was the Canadians got a duplicate gold...the Russians kept theirs....

#4 Tokyo Sox


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:11 AM

I was amused that a sentence started with "He herself..."

#5 lexrageorge

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:25 AM

I think that there will be a continued attempt to sweep it under the rug...which is what the IOC has been doing for months...but I think that more and more is going to come to light and eventually, some response will be required...

I think that, given the tenuous state of china in world affairs, the odds are virtually nil that China loses a medal or medals.

Even back when that French judge fixed the ice skating for the Russians, all that happened was the Canadians got a duplicate gold...the Russians kept theirs....



Agreed that there is no chance the Chinese get stripped of the medals. In the 2 cases where the US was truly robbed of a gold medal (the 1972 basketball team and the 1988 Roy Jones boxing fiasco), the IOC did nothing outside of going through the motions of "investigating".

While the decision to award a duplicate gold to the Canadian figure skating team was popular on this side of the world, I do recall that there was a backlash of criticism of the IOC for "bending to popular pressure". Also, the IOC could not justify stripping the Russian team of their gold; there were certainly arguments to be made that the Russian team deserved the gold and could have won it without the help of the corrupt judge.

If anything, it is possible that the Chinese coach gets fired, or barred from future world competitions. With any luck, the IOC will implement steps to try to enforce age limit more closely in the future. And, in 2012, they will not have the elephant in the room of having China hosting the games.

#6 gaelgirl


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:27 AM

It will be very interesting to see if this gets swept under the rug in deference to China. It's seems so obvious that these girls are so young. I don't have a problem with a 13 year old competing, but it's disappointing to the other teams that complied with the rule.

What are the odds that any medals are eventually stripped because of this?

Zero. The IOC and FIG have no interest in investigating. Even if they did -- how do they prove she's not 16 when the government happily supplies them with birth certificates, passports and anything else they'd possibly need to verify ages? It's not like the IOC can file a "freedom of information request" and they hand over incriminating documents.

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to look at some of those girls and determine they are not 16. But, in the words of guilty criminals throughout fictional television shows and movies, "prove it."

It's a stupid rule and they should get rid of it. A 15-year-old gymnast who could win gold this year has a very good chance of being an often injured 19-year-old who can't keep up with her 16-year-old teammates so she takes incredibly ill-advised risks to get or keep her spot on the team. Like, for example, Chellsie Memmel competing this week on a broken foot (she wasn't too young for Athens, just injured).

#7 shane88888

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:46 AM

I think it's pretty lame that these stories are starting to hit the major American news outlets after the team competition is over. This isn't new information; the timing stinks.

Everyone knew this was an issue a week ago - do your homework and run the stories then. It's been days since I first saw links to English-language Chinese newspaper stories describing these girls as thirteen as of like nine months ago. I'm sure Bela Karolyi would have had a comment; there's a story in and of itself. Making a big stink now just reflects poorly on the U.S. team.

In conclusion, the media sucks.

#8 Fred not Lynn


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 12:13 PM

Just cut off their legs and count the rings...

In seriousness, the rules are valid and are there for a reason. No way it is healthy and appropriate for 13 year olds to be in this - it's just wrong.

That said, how do you police that, given that a government can issue any documents they want? The only way is instead of having a chronolgical age limit, you base eligibility on measurable indicators of physical maturity. You may have some under-chronological-age athletes slip thru, and might eliminate some who are of actual age, but at least you'd have a concrete method for enforcement.

Bear this scary scenario in mind - what if those athletes ARE actually old enough, and through various methods had their physical maturity delayed? I would not put it past a state sponsored sport system to find a way and do something like that. In fact, I wouldn't put it past western coaches and parents to do it either, although they dont have the R&D department the government sponsored factories do.

#9 Monbo Jumbo


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 12:30 PM

The story isn't about to explode.

The rules say the passports are what counts, so that's what counts.

The governing bodies of gymanstics have no desire to take on the communist party of China.

#10 bsj


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 12:42 PM

The story isn't about to explode.

The rules say the passports are what counts, so that's what counts.

The governing bodies of gymanstics have no desire to take on the communist party of China.



By explode, I was referring more specifically to the media and the public, in both of which this story will only gain greater and more high profile traction.

In regards to what the IOC does in response, the magnitude of that reaction I have no idea of, although I suspect that your opinion is likely not far from the fact, and that the IOC will turn blind eyes and deaf ears to the issue for as long as possible.

Examples:


http://sportsillustr...x.html?bcnn=yes

SI.com: What is the consensus among the world's gymnastics journalists regarding the Chinese female gymnasts?

Swift: The consensus of those I have talked to is that at least two, three or maybe as many as four are younger than 16. If they are not younger than 16, then they are sick and in danger. There is a 68-pound girl (Deng Linlin) on that team is claiming to be 16 years old. That is not a healthy body. If she is 16 and weighs 68 pounds, someone ought to put her in a hospital. The Romanians, the Russians and the Americans all look age appropriate. The only country that apparently is cheating is China.

http://www.time.com/...2,00.html?imw=Y

Under Olympic regulations, female gymnasts must turn 16 years old during the year of competition. According to their passports, which determine Olympic eligibility, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin are all 16. But Chinese online records and local newspaper articles have presented different information, raising questions about these three gynmasts' true ages. A 2006 biography from the local sports bureau where He was registered gave her date of birth as January 1, 1994, which would make her 14. A story earlier this year in the China Daily, the country's largest English-language newspaper, also reported that she is 14 years old. Another local-level competition roll had the date of birth of Jiang, who is only 32 kg (70.5 lbs.), as October 1, 1993, making her also 14.



One thing that shocks me is the number of people who believe the government documents of a country that commits the human atrocities that it has in the past.

Edited by bsj, 14 August 2008 - 12:50 PM.


#11 bosox4283

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 01:02 PM

By explode, I was referring more specifically to the media and the public, in both of which this story will only gain greater and more high profile traction.


The media and the public won't care. The media and the public ignore all of China's abuses of human rights and partnerships/friendship with awful dictators. Why would people care about gymnastics if they don't care about genocide, oppression of rights or other fundamental matters?

#12 bsj


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 01:12 PM

The media and the public won't care. The media and the public ignore all of China's abuses of human rights and partnerships/friendship with awful dictators. Why would people care about gymnastics if they don't care about genocide, oppression of rights or other fundamental matters?



Honestly? Because the Americans came in 2nd.

#13 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 01:32 PM

Get used to it. China is going absolute kick our ass in the next several Olympics. They will destroy the lives of tens of thousands of people in order to kick out Olympic champions. This is what the Soviets did, and this is what the East Germans did. The Soviets surpassed the Americans in medals several times in the summer as well. The Soviets (according to former gymnasts) used to impregnate their women athletes and abort the fetus in order to ... aww, hell, I don't know why the hell they did it but apparently it was supposed to help their biology.

In the 1970s and 1980s, America consistently had the best athletes amongst countries that were not rotten to the core. We do today as well. That is going to have to suffice I am afraid.

#14 lexrageorge

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:24 PM

Get used to it. China is going absolute kick our ass in the next several Olympics. They will destroy the lives of tens of thousands of people in order to kick out Olympic champions. This is what the Soviets did, and this is what the East Germans did. The Soviets surpassed the Americans in medals several times in the summer as well. The Soviets (according to former gymnasts) used to impregnate their women athletes and abort the fetus in order to ... aww, hell, I don't know why the hell they did it but apparently it was supposed to help their biology.


A big part of the reason the Soviet, East German, and other Eastern bloc nations would kick our tails in Olympics past is that their athletes were hardly amateurs. The Soviet government would claim they were, the Communist-run IOC would agree, and nothing would be done when the CCCP's ice hockey team would play the same guys year after year, all much bigger and older looking than the 20 y/o kids we would send to Olympus.

In the 1970s and 1980s, America consistently had the best athletes amongst countries that were not rotten to the core. We do today as well. That is going to have to suffice I am afraid.


That's something to be proud of, not afraid of.

#15 Pumpsie


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:40 PM

The Huffington Post has the "smoking gun" in the form of official Chinese documents here:

http://www.huffingto...m_b_118842.html

I don't give a rat's ass about lip-syncing during ceremonies or CG enhanced fireworks, but THIS is outright cheating.

#16 bsj


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:43 PM

These are warm guns...the smoking gun is the memo from one Chinese governmental official to another instructing him to alter the passport.

#17 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:58 PM

Does anyone remember all the track records that Chinese women set at something called "China's National Games" in 1993? In particular, Wang Junxia broke the 10K record by 42 seconds--in fact, her final 5K in the race would have broken the 5K world record. She also broke the 3K record (by 10 seconds, five women broke the old record in the same race) and another runner crushed the 1500 record. The entire group of runners was trained by the same person and were neighbors in the same province. Some of these records still stand.

The whole phenomenon soon passed, though the coach and several of his athletes were later busted for failed drug tests. Not the same athletes.

I will never trust a single member of the Chinese Olympic team. Never.

#18 Fred not Lynn


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 03:15 PM

Does anyone remember all the track records that Chinese women set at something called "China's National Games" in 1993? In particular, Wang Junxia broke the 10K record by 42 seconds--in fact, her final 5K in the race would have broken the 5K world record.


Around that time, China had a reputation as a chronic sports doping offender (many East German coaches, in fact, got new jobs in China after German re-unification). When Sydney was choosen over Beijing to host the 2000 Games, there was chatter that China's doping culture may have been a signifigant factor in the IOC vote.

After that, China did seem to play a lot cleaner, at least as far as doping was concerned...

Edited by Fred not Lynn, 14 August 2008 - 03:17 PM.


#19 The Belly Itcher

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 04:36 PM

Big deal. The US still didn't beat them. You Americans can get so whiney.

#20 grantb


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 05:04 PM

Even back when that French judge fixed the ice skating for the Russians, all that happened was the Canadians got a duplicate gold...the Russians kept theirs....


This is completely different. The Russian ice skaters didn't break any rules; the judge was bribed for betting purposes. The Chinese are deliberately trying to break the rules.

#21 TrishPike

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 05:49 PM

Look, lying about gymnasts' ages has been a problem for over 20 years, and not a single title/medal/record has ever been stripped because of it.

Before 1997, the age limit used to be turning 15 in the year the Olympics were held (and to let gymnasts qualify, turning 14 in the year the World Championships, the year before the Olympics were held; that's how 13 year old Dominique Moceanu competed in the 1995 Worlds). The reason they created an age limit is because of the brutal training that allowed them to become so good so young was detrimental to young girls (and let's be honest, they're almost all legally children).

The 1981 World All-Around Champion (Olga Bicherova) was only 13 when she won - the Soviets altered her passport. The Romanians did the same thing in 1985 to let Daniela Silivas compete (her age was raised two years from 13 to 15) where she won the world beam title. Both have since come out and admitted their real ages, and the fact that their governments changed them to allow them to compete.

The most egregious example was North Korean gymnast Kim Gwang Suk. Her age was given as 15 in three years (1989, 1990, 1991), and then in 1992 it suddenly jumped to 17 (even though she was 4' 4"). Her age at the 1989 World Championships has since been estimated to be 11 or 12 at the time. The only punishment the N. Korean team got was suspension from world competition for a year.

It's also not like the Chinese hasn't done this - 2000 Olympian Yang Yun has since started on TV that she was 14 when she competed at the Olympics, not the 16 that they claimed she was.

I understand the thought processes behind setting the age minimum, but it hurts the US. The 1997 World Championship team had to go down to the 9th qualifier because 3 gymnasts in the top 6 were only 15. And I'm sure the US would've liked to have had gymnasts on the Olympic team like Nastia Liukin in 2004, and Kristal Uzelac in 2000, but they were too young.

The reason that Bela and Marta question the ages is because, remember, they were the Romanian team coaches until 1981. They KNOW how age falsification works, because they were on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

The IOC and FIG won't do anything about this. At all. The North Koreans only got caught because they lied in FIG documents for 4 years straight.

Edited by TrishPike, 14 August 2008 - 05:49 PM.


#22 The Belly Itcher

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 06:00 PM

This is completely different. The Russian ice skaters didn't break any rules; the judge was bribed for betting purposes. The Chinese are deliberately trying to break the rules.



Posted Image

Posted Image

?????

#23 Fred not Lynn


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 06:10 PM

When athletes in the 70's compained about doping, they were called sore losers, and whiners. If someone would have listened to them then, right away, we might have had a much bigger head start in the battle against doping we're waging today...

#24 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 06:17 PM

Shirley Babashoff is a great example. She whined in 1976 after losing to an East German lumberjack named Kornelia Ender. Shirley was right.

#25 The Belly Itcher

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 06:20 PM

When athletes in the 70's compained about doping, they were called sore losers, and whiners. If someone would have listened to them then, right away, we might have had a much bigger head start in the battle against doping we're waging today...



You're equating doping with underage gymnasts? I think there should be stricter policing but this doesn't detract from their accomplishment. They still had to perform flawlessly in front of billions of people on their own merit, free of drugs and after a boatload of training. The Americans couldn't close the deal against the kids. Period.

#26 BigMike


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 06:21 PM

Get used to it. China is going absolute kick our ass in the next several Olympics. They will destroy the lives of tens of thousands of people in order to kick out Olympic champions. This is what the Soviets did, and this is what the East Germans did. The Soviets surpassed the Americans in medals several times in the summer as well. The Soviets (according to former gymnasts) used to impregnate their women athletes and abort the fetus in order to ... aww, hell, I don't know why the hell they did it but apparently it was supposed to help their biology.

In the 1970s and 1980s, America consistently had the best athletes amongst countries that were not rotten to the core. We do today as well. That is going to have to suffice I am afraid.


I have no doubt they will be on the US level in the Olympics moving forward. They have almost 4 times as many people to choose from, and have shown that the state will spend resources and sacrifice all other aspects of the life of their athletes to make them the best.

But I still don't see them kicking our asses on a consistent level. They will continue to excell in sports that being tiny and flexible are huge benefits (gymnastics, diving, etc). And they'll dominate in events we view as drinking games (ping pong, badmitton), But the US will likely continue to dominate the swimming events, and the US will absolutely continue to dominate the track sprint events.

Russia used to beat the US in the medal count, or at least keep it close, with a big assist from events that few in the US care about, and so it will be with China.

#27 Fred not Lynn


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 06:49 PM

You're equating doping with underage gymnasts? I think there should be stricter policing but this doesn't detract from their accomplishment. They still had to perform flawlessly in front of billions of people on their own merit, free of drugs and after a boatload of training. The Americans couldn't close the deal against the kids. Period.

Because the kids apparently have an unfair advantage - if it wasn't an advantage to have a physically immature body in gymnastice, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

You think a communist sports machine with a population of a billion has allegedly underaged athletes out there because not enough 16 year olds tried out for gymnastics this year? Entering a 13 yr old in gymnastics is like entering a 200 lb guy in welterweight boxing.

#28 Frito Tankona

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 06:59 PM

Because the kids apparently have an unfair advantage - if it wasn't an advantage to have a physically immature body in gymnastice, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

You think a communist sports machine with a population of a billion has allegedly underaged athletes out there because not enough 16 year olds tried out for gymnastics this year? Entering a 13 yr old in gymnastics is like entering a 200 lb guy in welterweight boxing.


The age limit was implemented only partially due to being an unfair advantage. One theory is that younger athletes are less likely to crumble under pressure than are more mentally mature young women who are able to grasp the gravity of performing in the Olympics. That's not to say that the 14-year-old gymnasts on the Chinese team don't feel any pressure, they just may not fully understand what's going on. The other reason for the age requirements is to try to minimize injuries. Karolyi said the other day that he'd prefer not to have an age requirement. No kidding, Bela. His treatment of young athletes is part of the reason the age rules were implemented (and suspected to be one reason that he's no longer heavily involved in coaching).

#29 The Belly Itcher

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:48 PM

Because the kids apparently have an unfair advantage - if it wasn't an advantage to have a physically immature body in gymnastice, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

You think a communist sports machine with a population of a billion has allegedly underaged athletes out there because not enough 16 year olds tried out for gymnastics this year? Entering a 13 yr old in gymnastics is like entering a 200 lb guy in welterweight boxing.



Oh, that's complete bullsh*t. Why is it an advantage exactly? Because they are winning?

Edited by The Belly Itcher, 14 August 2008 - 08:49 PM.


#30 Morgan's Magic Snowplow


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:56 PM

Oh, that's complete bullsh*t. Why is it an advantage exactly? Because they are winning?


I'm no gymnastics expert, but there seems to be a complete consensus among them that its an advantage.

#31 Shelterdog


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:58 PM

Oh, that's complete bullsh*t. Why is it an advantage exactly? Because they are winning?


Read the thread chief. Everyone in the sport seems to think that it's an advantage to be under 15. The younger gymnasts are more flexible, more fearless, and, because they are lighter, can twirl around and stick landings and shit more easily.

#32 cutman1000

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:13 PM

Oh, that's complete bullsh*t. Why is it an advantage exactly? Because they are winning?


You are an idiot. Why are you arguing something you obviously don't understand? Try reading up on the subject before making yourself look even more stupid.

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#33 Euclis20

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:20 PM

Read the thread chief. Everyone in the sport seems to think that it's an advantage to be under 15. The younger gymnasts are more flexible, more fearless, and, because they are lighter, can twirl around and stick landings and shit more easily.


To add to that, even if you assume that being younger is no advantage, the age rule does exist; if the Chinese don't follow the same rules as everybody else, it gives them a much larger talent pool to select from. The best gymnast in America might not turn 16 until next year, and she wouldn't be allowed on the team. This would not be the case in China.

#34 Ahriman


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:24 PM

Why hold a fucking competition to determine who the best gymnasts in the world are if you have a rule in place to exclude the best gymnasts in the world?

Fine, the Chinese got an advantage. Big whoop. If competing against 2nd graders is the deciding factor as to whether or not you succeed in your sport, then you deserve to lose whatever it is you are doing. The US team needs to unleash it's own troupe of girl scouts and stop whining.

#35 bsj


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:38 PM

Why hold a fucking competition to determine who the best gymnasts in the world are if you have a rule in place to exclude the best gymnasts in the world?

Fine, the Chinese got an advantage. Big whoop. If competing against 2nd graders is the deciding factor as to whether or not you succeed in your sport, then you deserve to lose whatever it is you are doing. The US team needs to unleash it's own troupe of girl scouts and stop whining.


Not the point. Not the point. Not the point.

The rule is there. If its a crap rule, you lobby for it to be changed. If you circumvent it, you are cheating, and are at fault, whether the rule sucks or not.

#36 Ahriman


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:42 PM

Not the point. Not the point. Not the point.

The rule is there. If its a crap rule, you lobby for it to be changed. If you circumvent it, you are cheating, and are at fault, whether the rule sucks or not.

That's my point. That's my point. That's my point.

It's a stupid fucking rule.

#37 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:44 PM

Perhaps China doesn't think its an advantage, they just put younger kids on the team just to be more age diiverse. :)

#38 Stuart Scott's Lazy Eye


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Posted 15 August 2008 - 01:14 AM

Not the point. Not the point. Not the point.

The rule is there. If its a crap rule, you lobby for it to be changed. If you circumvent it, you are cheating, and are at fault, whether the rule sucks or not.


Kind of like when an NFL team uses the excuse that they tape defensive signals because "everyone else is doing it".

/thread highjack.

#39 Fred not Lynn


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Posted 15 August 2008 - 02:01 AM

Why hold a fucking competition to determine who the best gymnasts in the world are if you have a rule in place to exclude the best gymnasts in the world?


I think that's a very valid question which higlights the fact that women's gymnastics may well be a flawed sport, which may not be appropriate for international competition.

#40 pdaj

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:12 AM

I think that's a very valid question which higlights the fact that women's gymnastics may well be a flawed sport, which may not be appropriate for international competition.


And doesn't the NBA force high school graduates to play a year of college ball before they can enter the league?

Whether you agree or not, Stern and co. believe that an additional year of personal growth, iemotional maturity, and basketball experience makes incoming basketball players better equipped to handle life in the NBA.

As much as I love the Olympics, I feel for a bunch of these kids. The pressure is insane. So much of their lives (and/or childhood) is dedicated to training and Olympic preparation. When they win, they're relieved ... and when they fail, they're utterly devastated. Somewhere along the line, a number of informed individuals decided it would be best to delay these pressures until the age of 16. Can you blame them?

#41 Monbo Jumbo


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Posted 15 August 2008 - 04:30 AM

Oh, that's complete bullsh*t. Why is it an advantage exactly? Because they are winning?


Smaller is easier to twist, turn and tumble, that's why.

#42 The Belly Itcher

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 09:21 AM

So you're telling me that all things being EXACTLY equal, it is inevitable that a girl at 12 years-old will more flexible compared to herself at the age of 17? Imagine this hypothetical: you take a population of gymnasts at age 12, test their flexibility, balance, etc. You retest the very same gymnasts five years later, who all have continued their extensive training regimen, and ALL of them will be less flexible, less balanced, etc. compared to themselves five years earlier? I simply can't buy this rationale without some physiological data to back it up, and its the only way that I'd be outraged about this whole thing -- i.e., if the physiology makes it IMPOSSIBLE for one to better than yourself at an earlier age. If that was the case, then there is some parallel to steroids.

My reasoning as to why older gymnasts might get some physiological advantage, notwithstanding the experience, is that a woman's center of gravity lowers as she hits puberty (i.e., the hips enlarge), which would certainly make her more balanced in some cases.

Edited by The Belly Itcher, 15 August 2008 - 09:22 AM.


#43 Shelterdog


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Posted 15 August 2008 - 09:34 AM

So you're telling me that all things being EXACTLY equal, it is inevitable that a girl at 12 years-old will more flexible compared to herself at the age of 17? Imagine this hypothetical: you take a population of gymnasts at age 12, test their flexibility, balance, etc. You retest the very same gymnasts five years later, who all have continued their extensive training regimen, and ALL of them will be less flexible, less balanced, etc. compared to themselves five years earlier? I simply can't buy this rationale without some physiological data to back it up, and its the only way that I'd be outraged about this whole thing -- i.e., if the physiology makes it IMPOSSIBLE for one to better than yourself at an earlier age. If that was the case, then there is some parallel to steroids.

My reasoning as to why older gymnasts might get some physiological advantage, notwithstanding the experience, is that a woman's center of gravity lowers as she hits puberty (i.e., the hips enlarge), which would certainly make her more balanced in some cases.


I think you're fucking with us.

The point is not that in every single case the 12 year old is better than they would be at 17 years old. Probably some are and some aren't, and it will depend on the event, the athletes, etc. The point is (1) in many cases the under 16 year olds are better gymnasts than the older gymnasts, in part because they're so freaking little and (2) the powers that be have decided that having gymnasts under age 16 is a bad policy.

Steroids isn't really the right analogy. It's more like a NCAA recruiting violation where a team is playing guys who are semi-pro or academically ineligible. The cheater (here China) gets to use a broader pool of athletes to field their optimal team than the non-cheaters do.

#44 The Belly Itcher

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 09:54 AM

I think you're fucking with us.

The point is not that in every single case the 12 year old is better than they would be at 17 years old. Probably some are and some aren't, and it will depend on the event, the athletes, etc. The point is (1) in many cases the under 16 year olds are better gymnasts than the older gymnasts, in part because they're so freaking little and (2) the powers that be have decided that having gymnasts under age 16 is a bad policy.

Steroids isn't really the right analogy. It's more like a NCAA recruiting violation where a team is playing guys who are semi-pro or academically ineligible. The cheater (here China) gets to use a broader pool of athletes to field their optimal team than the non-cheaters do.


I don't know if fucking is the right word. That's your point, but not mine. I'm not questioning whether its "legal" or not. If they violated a rule, so be it-- they shouldn't have and that's wrong. But given that's what is done is done, my angle is coming more from whether their accomplishments (the Chinese gymnast in question) should be questioned solely on the basis of the performance. In this context, my concern is more whether a pre-pubescent gymnast is physiologically more capable than a post-pubescent gymnast, which would confer an unfair advantage because a post-pubescent gymnast simply can't train to reverse her age. This isn't clear to me despite all of the assertions by former gymnasts and coaches.

For example, I can link this:

http://www.ncbi.nlm....Pubmed_RVDocSum

http://www.ncbi.nlm....Pubmed_RVDocSum

Though I can't upload the article, there doesn't seem to be any indication that age makes you worse off as an athelete, although the methods admittedly seem imperfect. The American gymnasts did not out-perform the Chinese gymnasts but they certainly could have done so. That's my point. The age problem existed before the Olympics started; to complain about this now comes across as sour grapes. If the Americans won the competition, would there have been so much investigation?

Edited by The Belly Itcher, 15 August 2008 - 10:05 AM.


#45 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 15 August 2008 - 10:08 AM

The advantage to a gymnast is being small. It is much easier to do a kickass quadruple flip vault when you are 68 pounds, as opposed to 100 pounds. It is easier to go higher, easier to bend your little body around, iand easier on your joints if you fall. Its easy if you don't have any mature female body parts, either internal or external.

Sure, all things being equal the 16 year old 68-pounder mught be better than the 13 year old 68-pounder. But you know what, there are no healthy 16 year olds who weight 68 pounds. The only way to weigh 68 pounds when you are 16 is to starve in Ethiopa, but that tends to hurt your gymnastics ability.

There are, however, pre-pubescent girls who are 68 pounds, without breasts, without a uterus, who are otherwise great athletes.

If this were all not true, we would not be having this conversation. China has plenty of athletic 16 year old girls, but they don't weigh 68 pounds. Ergo, they have to cheat to find them.

Edited by LahoudOrBillyC, 15 August 2008 - 10:09 AM.


#46 Myt1


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Posted 15 August 2008 - 10:09 AM

So you're telling me that all things being EXACTLY equal, it is inevitable that a girl at 12 years-old will more flexible compared to herself at the age of 17? Imagine this hypothetical: you take a population of gymnasts at age 12, test their flexibility, balance, etc. You retest the very same gymnasts five years later, who all have continued their extensive training regimen, and ALL of them will be less flexible, less balanced, etc. compared to themselves five years earlier? I simply can't buy this rationale without some physiological data to back it up, and its the only way that I'd be outraged about this whole thing -- i.e., if the physiology makes it IMPOSSIBLE for one to better than yourself at an earlier age. If that was the case, then there is some parallel to steroids.


Of course not. Some people might just be clumsier as kids. Your comparison is also off, because it's not impossible to be better prior to using steroids. More to the point, the IOC has rules against using substances as innocuous as Tylenol Cold & Sinus. A Romanian gymnast was screwed a couple of olympiads ago for using it. Being smaller, lighter, and more flexible is likely more of an advantage than having an un-stuffed nose.

But we're not dealing with a 12 year-old competing against her 17 year old self. We're talking about a 12 year old competing against 16 and 17 year olds. The 12 year olds are more likely to be flexible and lighter, which are advantages. If you watch the Chinese girls on floor, they barely make a sound when they land. It's easier for them to flip around because they're so much smaller. It's like letting 10 year-olds enter a limbo contest.

#47 The Belly Itcher

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 10:10 AM

The advantage to a gymnast is being small. It is much easier to do a kickass quadruple flip vault when you are 68 pounds, as opposed to 100 pounds. It is easier to go higher, easier to bend your little body around, iand easier on your joints if you fall. Its easy if you don't have any mature female body parts, either internal or external.

Sure, all things being equal the 16 year old 68-pounder mught be better than the 13 year old 68-pounder. But you know what, there are no healthy 16 year olds who weight 68 pounds. The only way to weight 68 pounds when you are 16 is to starve in Ethiopa, but that tends to hurt your gymnastics ability.

There are, however, pre-pubescent girls who are 68 pounds, without breasts, without a uterus, who are otherwise great athletes.

If this were all not true, we would not be having this conversation. China has plenty of athletic 16 year old girls, but they don't weigh 68 pounds. Ergo, they have to cheat to find them.


But there are other factors that age would enhance. Its not clear to me that flexibility must decrease between the age of 13 and 17. In fact, some of the material I have (admittedly) perused suggests the opposite. At any rate, I hope that everyone is ABSOLUTELY certain that these girls are underage.

Edited by The Belly Itcher, 15 August 2008 - 10:15 AM.


#48 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 15 August 2008 - 10:14 AM

But there are other factors that age would enhance..

What I don't understand about your argument is this: why would a country like China spent billions of dollars on a centralized athletic program and then have 13 year olds on their team? Is China just being silly, allowing these girls on the team when they actually would have been better off with the women over in the corner? Why are they doing it?

#49 Dropkick Izzy

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 10:18 AM

I would think that it has less to do with development of motor skills and/or level flexibility, and more to do with the growth of things tits and hips and being able to perform the same high level routines carring around 10 lbs of fat on your chest (see: Sacramone, Alicia).

EDIT: Better stated by Lahoud.

Edited by Dropkick Izzy, 15 August 2008 - 10:24 AM.


#50 Myt1


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Posted 15 August 2008 - 10:18 AM

I don't know if fucking is the right word. That's your point, but not mine. I'm not questioning whether its "legal" or not. If they violated a rule, so be it-- they shouldn't have and that's wrong. But given that's what is done is done, my angle is coming more from whether their accomplishments (the Chinese gymnast in question) should be questioned solely on the basis of the performance. In this context, my concern is more whether a pre-pubescent gymnast is physiologically more capable than a post-pubescent gymnast, which would confer an unfair advantage because a post-pubescent gymnast simply can't train to reverse her age. This isn't clear to me despite all of the assertions by former gymnasts and coaches.

For example, I can link this:

http://www.ncbi.nlm....Pubmed_RVDocSum

http://www.ncbi.nlm....Pubmed_RVDocSum

Though I can't upload the article, there doesn't seem to be any indication that age makes you worse off as an athelete, although the methods admittedly seem imperfect.


How does the first link help your point at all? It's a study of 11-14 year olds. The second finds no difference between gymnasts with an average age of 14.5 and 14.1.

The American gymnasts did not out-perform the Chinese gymnasts but they certainly could have done so. That's my point.


Carl Lewis certainly could have beaten Ben Johnson. A Light-Heavweight certainly could knock out a heavyweight. Hell, a woman cartainly could beat a man at most sports. Applying your point to other sports shows how empty it is.

The age problem existed before the Olympics started; to complain about this now comes across as sour grapes. If the Americans won the competition, would there have been so much investigation?


If the Orioles had won, would we know the name Jeffrey Maier?