Friday, August 22, 2008

Chinese Gymnasts

I feel bad for the girls who competed on the Chinese gymnastics team this Olympics. They were talented--there is no denying that.

But if they won their medals by illegally falsifying their ages, as is now finally being investigated, then it wasn't fair. They're just caught up in this, probably prompted on by their coaches and the Chinese gymnastics federation. But seriously, look at them... do the three girls accused of being younger than sixteen really look like they're sixteen years old?

I'm interested in seeing how this plays out in terms of medals and possible ramifications, especially now that the IOC has stepped in.


Just_Me said...

I suspect that, if they are under 16, it wasn't the gymnasts pushing for the falsification of documents. That would have been at a much higher level.

The sad thing is, whether they are or not, they are under suspicion because the Chinese government has a bad reputation. Whatever their reasons, and whatever the outcome, people are going to question them, ridicule them, and accuse them of wrongdoing.

Hopefully this won't prevent the girls from competing in the future.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I agree with Just_me. I've been to China quite a bit and know a bit about the government. It wouldn't be the girls fault. The Chinese people are really honest and caring. HOWEVER,

I predict the documents presented to certify the ages of these girls will "Prove" they are the correct age. Remember, China is moving to capitalism, but it's still a Communistist society. The central government has a tremendous amount of power. And I doubt the IOC will do any more than a cursory review.

Warren Jeffs said...

They look sixteen to me.

LeeAnn Flowers said...

As the mother of an eleven year old girl, who is one of the smallest girls in her class and is very slightly built, I look at those three and they look just like my daughter. I understand that the Asian women are not as heftily built as us Westerners, and that gymnastics stunts physical development to a large degree, but developmentally they look the same. The rules were put in place to protect girls from being pushed too far too early and causing permanent physical damage.

I agree that the Chinese government will never allow documentation to surface with anything other than an 'appropriate' age, but I suspect that within the next few years, after the girls have retired, a few more of them will come out and tell about how their ages were falsified, as has the one bronze medalist from Sydney.

I absolutely do not dispute that the girls brilliantly performed and won their medals. I just wish that they could've been allowed to develop to the point where they could enjoy their accomplishments without qualifications. Because whether they are of age or not, there will always be that question hanging over their medals.

If that is the case that the records were falsified, then the Chinese goverment has truly failed those girls.

Chris Redding said...

I understand that younger girls are more flexible. But older girls are stronger. They can develop muscles. And they will probably still be more petite than American girls so even at 16 they would have an advantage.
They already have one in that they have a more disciplined society.
Why falsify? I just don't get it.

Jan said...

You cannot tell how old the Chinese gymnasts are simply by looking at them. I'm under five feet tall, and when I was 21 years old, movie theater ticket sellers were still asking whether I paid the over-12 price.

I'm not saying the Chinese government didn't lie about those girls' ages. The paper trail, what there is of it, seems to indicate that they did. But they way the girls look proves absolutely nothing.

Jenny Rappaport said...

I'm not saying how they look proves anything. I'm just saying they don't look sixteen to *me*.

I'm 5'3"; I have relatives who are much shorter than me. And thinner than me. And they didn't look like those girls at sixteen--I'd put the Chinese gymnasts in question at about 13 or 14, personally, based solely on appearance.

Kin said...

My friend, who has lived here in the US for 15 years (most of her life), is adamant that the Chinese people are capitalists at heart. But that's aside from the point.

I don't know about the whole age business. People in China can be incredibly tight knit when it comes to these things, and officials would be hard pressed to find anyone who'll say that the girls are too young.

Maybe they ARE too young. I don't know. I'm Asian, 19 years old, and 4'10". I have the round cheeks and everything. Most of the time, people don't think I'm more than 12, 14 at the most, so I'll just say that it's really hard to tell just from appearances.

To be fair, the girls are tiny /and/ skinny and somehow frail-looking despite how obviously strong they are, and that does make them look very young.

Anonymous said...

China cheats. Tell us something we don't know. In an effort to gain international prestige, the Chinese government comes off as smarmy thugs. For communists and socialists, it's par for the course.

Amie Stuart said...

I was not at all surprised and I do feel bad for the girls but there's one girl on that team--just NO WAY is she 16.

>>I understand that the Asian women are not as heftily built as us Westerners

*sputters* Did you see some of their basketball players? I realize they're probably the exception to the rule but they had plenty of women over 6 ft.