Top Ten Reasons Why the Chinese Cheat In Olympic Women’s Gymnastics

The question that is most often asked is why did China cheat? China cheated in the 2008 Women’s Gymnastics by sending girls well under the age of 16 to compete in Olympic gymnastics, but why?  What did China and their gymnastics team gain by cheating and lying to the remaining Olympic teams?

This article presents the top 10 reasons in reverse order of importance.

10.  Female athletes past the age of 16 are physically developed and have weight distribution that is quite different from younger gymnasts.  In some events, this provides an advantage to girls less developed. It is easier for them to perform many of the exercises. Most that have won gold are 16 or younger.

9.   Psychology has much to do with the issue.  Older athletes feel the pressure more than children who are not mature enough to possess the same feelings of pressure and stress. Younger kids worry less.  Experienced coaches know this.  Bela Karolyi, the former coach of Olympic gold  medalists Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton, was interviewed before the Chinese performed, and said, “This young Chinese team (is) using 14-15 year olds, all kids, they have no pressure…”.

8. Younger girls appear to be less prone to injury.  Whether this is because of flexibility issues or some other reason is not known. Some of these statistics can be seen here.

7. Pressure is another factor related to 9 above. For older girls there is much less of chance of repeating in the Olympics.  That makes it a much more do or die scenario.  The younger girls can look at it more as just another competition or preparation for future games taking the pressure off.

6. A nation choosing to violate the rules and enter younger girls into the Olympics allows the girls to acquire more experience in the Olympics at a younger age.  Sneaking in 12-14 year olds allows those athletes to return at 16-18 well seasoned in Olympic competition giving the team better odds of delivering winners.  Most 16 year olds in the competition will likely not be able to compete again in future Olympics due to age issues and injury, but a 12-14 year old is guaranteed, if she remains healthy, to have a solid opportunity to repeat.  Essentially, for most women gymnasts, their career is over by 18.

5. The Olympics are only once every 4 years!! Some of your best talent may never get a chance to compete.  Girls that are 15 are excluded from the Olympics.  Their probability of maintaining their level of excellence, avoiding injury and surviving as competitors given the general pressures of teen-hood for four years, and then performing in their first Olympics at 19-20 is slim.  China’s dishonesty takes advantage of all the countries that could not send girls that were within just months or days of the requirement.

4. Smaller Framed women have less of a chance of going out of bounds during floor exercises because they can execute the same move in a shorter distance.

3.  Prescreening. Some girls can perform when in practice, but cannot in the stadium.  This provides the team a chance to screen the participants prior to giving them key positions on the team for future competitions.

2. Psychological advantage.  The girls on competing teams know the other girls are cheating to take an advantage and it impacts their performances.

1. First and foremost, sneaking in underage girls widens the field of prospects considerably. If you are limited to just girls over 16, you have a much narrower field to select from.  A girl 2 months shy of the deadline, healthy and with as good a prospects as a girl only 2 months her senior cannot be considered, even if the older girl is injured or is not as talented.  China could consider everyone because they are dishonest and have no problem with cheating to get the best of their girls to the Olympics.  Many American Olympic gymnastic athletes had injuries, but because the USA follows the rules, many 15 year olds that were readily available could not take their place.  The US had to enter the all-around competition with numerous injured athletes.

Deng LinLin of China walks by Nastia Liukin and Alicia Sacramone during the Women’s Gymnastics Team Finals in Beijing, China on August 13,2008.

Conclusion

China’s cheating hurts everyone.  It is a disgrace.  And it isn’t the first time.  The Chinese were caught “red” handed in the 2000 Olympics lying to the world and got caught. It hurts all our girls that could not go and may never get the chance to go.   And every girl they cheat from other nations out of an opportunity comes at a stiff price to that country and their potential medalists.  China is not only cheating, they are stealing from those nations and participants that obey the rules.

We believe China should be suspended from the next Olympic games entirely as the truth comes out and everyone realizes that they cheated once again.

Alicia Sacramone Deprived Of Medal As China Falls Down in Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Vault

To start, in the draw, Alicia had drawn the short straw and had to go first.  We are not sure how the drawing is done, but it did seem awfully coincidental that Shawn Johnson also drew the short straw in her event.  Going first is always a disadvantage, and both Americans drew the short straw out of the entire field?

Alicia had two vaults in the competition to redeem herself, but on each she bounced slightly on the landing.  Both vaults had been executed perfectly, but those little hops cost her points as she netted a 15.75 and a 15.325 for an average score of 15.537.

Next up was Cheng Fei from China, the only girl on the Chinese team that actually looks above the age of 16.  She did a higher difficulty vault, but also hopped slightly on the landing.  The vault itself was strong and the judges apparently decided the small hop was not worth a deduction and awarded her a 16.075.  She failed horribly on her next vault.  She hit the vault sideways; that was one penalty. Then she could not get enough height, and ended up landing on her knees; another major penalty.

The score she received was not believable.  Her second vault was awarded an overly generous 15.05 and that placed her average score just a hair above Alicia’s at 15.562, about 2/100 of a point ahead of Alicia.  Bear in mind that she got a 15.05 for falling, but Alicia had been awarded a 15.325 on her vault, which was perfect except for a small hop at the end.  Had Cheng Fei even been awarded a 15.00, Alicia would have bronzed.  The judges had given Cheng Fei just enough to ensure Alicia would not medal, but later vaults similar to Cheng’s were awarded 14s.

This atrocious judging pushed Alicia out to fourth.  Korea gets the Gold, Germany the Silver, and China the Bronze.  Alicia missed the medal by 2/100 of a point and, despite having executed excellent vaults and having landed on her feet both times, still ended up behind the Chinese Bronze Medalist who executed a horrible second vault, landing on her knees.

This was an enormous judging error that cheated Alicia out of her chance to redeem herself and out of a Medal she deserved.

This will be an Olympics that Alicia will want to forget.  At age 20, it quite likely will be her last.

Watch Alicia Sacramone and Cheng Fei’s actual perfomances and judge for yourself… Cheng Fei falls on her knees, and she gets a Bronze medal. Sacramone misses the Bronze by 2/100 of a point…

Please take time now to watch the commentary of Bela Karolyi, the legendary US gymnastics coach. His view on the vault final as a “total rip-off…”

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China “Cheats” Their Way To Olympic Gold In Women’s Gymnastics. USA Silvers.

America was about to compete against the Chinese “Women’s” Gymnastics Team.  After a brilliant vault, Deng Linlin of China returned to the sidelines to be greeted and congratulated by her teammates.

The American team was nearby, and what was absolutely apparent was that the American team all looked 16.  Most of the Chinese team barely came up to the American Girls’ shoulders, and looked to be between 13 and 14 with the exception of Deng Linlin who looked all of 11 years old.

The minimum age requirement for women to be considered eligible for Olympics competition in gymnastics is 16, and somehow almost all the Chinese girls have passports that confirm they are exactly 16.  These, of course, were printed by the Chinese Government.   The International Olympic Committee has chosen to trust China to be honest in this competition despite how obvious the violation is.

The USA Team Competes

First Vault by an American was Bridget Sloan.  She jumped a perfect vault, and although a little off center on the landing, stuck it well within the line.  Her total score 15.200.

Shawn Johnson vaulted next, leaping and tumbling perfectly in the air.  The difficulty on Shawn’s vault was greater, and as she landed, her legs crossed.  Despite the slip, her score for this incredible jump was 16.0.

Alicia Sacramone was next.  Her vault was nearly perfect except for a small hop at the end.  That would cost her 1/10 of a point.  But the difficulty was high and she totaled 15.675, placing the team ahead of China, but both China and the US were trailing Russia.

Chelsie Memmel, a world champion on the uneven parallel bars took the floor.  Because of an injury, Chelsie would only compete in this event.  Therefore, the bars would be everything for her and her only contribution to the team.  This would be her last Olympic exercise, and she was near perfection.  Her landing motionless.  Her score, 15.725!

Shawn Johnson was quick and smooth in her performance and did a dismount that is among the hardest in the competition.  She nailed it without so much as a ripple.  Her score, 15.350.  This was disappointing after that great dismount.  It was difficult to explain this low score.

Nastia Liuken is stellar on the bars, and she executed a routine that is incredibly difficult.  Every move was perfect.  She fell on her last dismount in the qualifying round.  Not this time.  Score, 16.900, as close to 17 as we have seen.  As she stood awaiting her score, Nastia stood behind Deng Linlin.  Deng barely reaches the bottom of Nastia’s neck.

The next challenge for the Americans was the balance beam.  Alicia Sacramone fell off the beam.  And her look was total disgust.  She fell just jumping on the beam and lost 8/10 of a point to start.  Her dismount was amazing, but it would be negated by the poor beginning.  Score 15.100.

Liukin had to save the day and started well, but lost her balance half way through.  Despite the slight slip, her dismount was perfect, and it needed to be.  15.975.

Shawn Johnson finished up on the beam, beginning with three backflips executed perfectly.  She hit every move and then landed with only a slight step on an incredibly difficult dismount.  Score, 16.175.

After the beam, the separation between China in first and the US in second was only one point despite the “Sacramone”ous fall.  If Alicia had not slipped on the beam, the US would likely be ahead.

The Americans’ Sacramone began the floor event and could not shake the nerves.  She fell backwards, landing on her behind, after a double forward flip, losing 8/10 of a point.  The upset from her prior fall was probably just too much for her to handle, and you know she was devastated.  That fall likely gave China the gold, barring disaster.  She was brilliant in the rest of the exercise, until she stepped out to lose another 1/10 of a point.  Everything that could go wrong did.  She knew she had just lost the gold for her teammates even after all the years of practice, and at 20 this is likely her last Olympics.  She was afraid to look as the score posted at 14.125, a score the rest of the team could not hope to make up.

Nastia Liukin was next and stepped out on her first move, losing 1/10 of a point.  The exercise was beautiful, so hopefully, she could score well, but it likely wouldn’t matter after the disaster in the first exercise.

Shawn Johnson is the World Champion.  But even perfection could not win this for the Americans if it were not accompanied by disaster for the Chinese (such as their true age being revealed maybe)?  Even Shawn stepped out on the first pass.  1/10 point gone.  The entire team was rattled by Sacramone’s heartbreaking performance.  Alicia was holding tears inside, and the other girls felt it.  Shawn did well, but NBC decided a commercial was more important than displaying her score.

Why This Competition Was Unfair Before the Olympics Even Started

Bela Karolyi, the former coach of Olympic gold  medalists Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton, was interviewed before the Chinese performed, and said, “This young Chinese team (is) using 14-15 year olds, all kids, they have no pressure…”.  When asked if he believed the Chinese team was cheating, he said “that is obviously documented.  Half the Chinese team is underage.”

Karolyi followed the event with the statement, “I have to comment the Chinese Team, (are) good kids; nothing to say about that.  Too bad they are underage and should not be legally accepted…”

In other words, it is too bad that we allow the Chinese to cheat right under our nose and do nothing about it.  The Chinese Girl’s Olympic Team Gets the Gold.

And so we leave you.  The US did not execute their best game, but they also could not choose from the same range of talent the Chinese could.  The age limit should either not exist or be universally enforced.  Anything else is clearly unfair to our athletes.

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

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Please take time to read our related post: Chinese Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team, Are They Way Under Age?
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Photo Credits: Lluis Gene / Al Bello / Getty Images