When watching the Chinese women’s gymnastic team perform, one is immediately stricken by the apparent illegal age of the performers. There are clear age requirements for the Olympics, but why is it that only the Chinese team seems to be an average age of 12?
Deng Linlin of China is alleged by the Chinese team to be 16 years of age. We are not sure, but we think they are defining a year as the length of time it takes Venus to orbit the Sun, not Earth. This girl looks 12 at the very most. She has no physical signs of female development, zero body fat and looks like, if 16, she would be being treated as an anorexic.
Deng looks to be, at most, 60 pounds, and has about a 4′ frame. She couldn’t get on the E-Rides at Disneyworld! And she would definitely qualify for the discount children’s ticket without any questions from the park’s operators!
There are clear advantages to playing this card for a women’s gymnastics team. Weight is more evenly distributed in the young. In addition, the younger a girl starts in the Olympics, the more experience she can garner for future competitions. Basic physics also tells you, the smaller the frame, the less room it takes to execute a move. A 4 footer can somersault in significantly less distance than someone 5 feet, vastly reducing the probability of stepping out of bounds during floor exercises, a common problem in gymnastics for girls of legitimate age and stature.
Most of all, sneaking in underage girls opens up the field for a broader array of talent, providing the teams that cheat a significant advantage. There are many candidates that were excluded by legitimate teams in the competition, sometimes just months shy of the qualification age.
The New York Times has already reported that online records have two members of the Chinese women’s team, He Kexin and Jiang Yuyuan, at age 14, in violation of the Olympic minimum age requirement of 16. Yang Yilin was indicated as being 14 on a state-run television website at about the same time.
14 seems generous. Apparently, someone confirmed the ages of these girls, but common sense says they are most likely lying.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge deferred responsibility for enforcing the age limit to China’s gymnastics federation, but isn’t that like letting the fox watch the hen house?
Bela Karolyi, the former coach of Olympic gold medalists Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton said “Shame on the IOC if they don’t do anything about it.”
Karolyi’s solution? “The only way to stop this is to take off the age limit. Take it away. We would have some amazing young athletes on our team, too, but they missed it by a few months. To force honest countries to hold back and allow other countries, not so honest, to push them forward, it’s not fair.”
“No so honest” was kind.
We have a related follow up story on this one over at: Communism Does Not Upset us, Chinese Cheats Do! How NASDAQ Assists China As They Cheat the US in Olympics and In Business