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Do You Think the Chinese Gymnasts Are All Over 16 Years of Age?

In a close competition, every detail falls under scrutiny.

The US women's gymnastic team, older and wiser than the gold-winning Chinese team, performed well minus a couple of falls and landed in second place. The 20-year-old team captain Alicia Sacramone, who unfortunately fell during both her floor routine as well as her balance beam exercise, tried to keep a positive attitude about winning silver as did her teammate Nastia Liukin. Although the team mostly accepted their defeat with grace, the age of the much younger Chinese team was once again questioned by US coach Marta Karolyi, wife of coach Beyla Karolyi with whom she trained gold medalists Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton. A report was published just before the games alleging that at least two of the Chinese gymnasts are only 14-years-old, making them ineligible for competition. Both of the Karolyis have complained that the stadium officials disrupted Sacramone's preparation prior to competing on the balance beam.

What do you think? Do you believe the Chinese gymnasts are all 16 years old? Or do you think these accusations are poor sportsmanship?


Join The Conversation
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 8 years
And btw, I'm 18 and I've been told I look 13. So contrary to another poster who commented much earlier, that would mean when I was 16 I looked around 10. So people just stop it with this hate. Just because they don't look like YOU looked when you were 16 doesn't mean any less of them. I can't express how much this age issue infuriates me. Do you think anyone likes being told that theyre 5 or more years younger than they really am? Those of you that are not Asian or who have never experienced this just don't know how much it can hurt to be singled out like that amongst everyone else who 'looks their age'. And even if they are 12, like I said before, the US, Russia, Japan, Germany, all those gold-medal faves should've raised a huge stink about this LONG before.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 8 years
First of all, ASIANS LOOK YOUNG. YOUNGER THAN THEY ARE. I know this firsthand, it really is annoying to have people question you alllll the damn time because you look underage. I can't tell you how many times I've been harrassed and given a hard time about being let into a club that let all my friends in and have been asked whether my ID is real or not. With that said, I do think that there may be a gymnast here who is of age, and the rest are probably underage but not as badly as the media is portraying them to be. And so what anyways? If the US and every other country participating in artistic gymnastics had a problem with these girls ages, why wasn't it brought up more than a week before the games began?! The other countries should have been investigating this long before, like when the Olympic Trials were taking place and taking action from then and not waiting to see what would happen. Those girls kicked @ss out there and they deserve to be commended. its not their fault that they were at the Olympics. They worked just as hard as any of the eligible gymnasts there, and if there was a reason that they did not belong, it should have been taken care of longggg before. As much as i like the Karolyis, they can really only blame themselves (this goes for other countries too)... they should've raised a huge stink back when the trials were going on... now they and the other coaches have nobody to blame but themselves.
junkotokiio junkotokiio 8 years
Oh and by the way living in china and helping high school students in need, I know what a 16 year old looks like in chinese norms...
junkotokiio junkotokiio 8 years
I read china daily and other sport magazines... 3 months ago the girls where 14.. now there 16.. do they take us for idiots or what?
littleladylove littleladylove 8 years
Asians tend to look very young. I'm almost 23 and sometimes people mistake me for SIXTEEN. That's a SEVEN year difference. And it's not just me, a lot of my friends who are Asian. Stop jumping to conclusions and if they won, they won because they performed better. Let it be and stop complaining USA>
queenvictoria630 queenvictoria630 8 years
wow. Im a gymnast myself, and apparently some of you have no idea what your talking about. Look at the chinese. Now look at USA. Who looks older??? Cheng Fei is the only one who looks her age. The other girls look like they haven't even gone through puberty yet! I can see the chinese cheating. They should convesgate their medals immediatley.
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 8 years
Rules are rules...End of story. They should be disqualified. We would never get away with such a thing if we tried it (USA).
underyourwaves underyourwaves 8 years
I'm Chinese American and I was a gymnast for five years. :/ I'm 5'1 (most gymnasts are petite and small) and if it weren't for my boobs, I'd still get asked if I'm twelve. I'd like to think that they're all sixteen or older, but I'm really not sure. I mean, for one thing-- gymnasts, like I said before, are typically very small, light, and petite. Asian girls (not Asian-American) tend to look younger than they really are (my mom's 45 and people constantly ask me if she's my older sister), and I know from experience that we don't have the best teeth/dental care. Who knows? It could be that those girls are considered sixteen by the Chinese/lunar calendar. I'm eighteen in U.S. years but my Chinese relatives consider me "twenty" because they count the time of conception & the Chinese New Year (of the year I was born).
javsmav javsmav 8 years
I'm not sure. There are some members of the team that look really young. I taught English in China and my students were 15-16 years old. None of them looked as young as the smallest gymnasts. I suppose it's possible b/c gymnastics obviously picks the smallest girls for the sport, but it looks like some of the evidence out there says otherwise. The Chinese took a very tough stance on the swimmer Ouyang Kunpeng, who was caught doping. They banned him and his coach from competition. So it's not like they are cheating at every opportunity.
NadiaPotter NadiaPotter 8 years
there's a USA girl that to me looks underage, is just about genetics and that stuff, I have a friend that was 21 and looks like a 14 year old so, maybe, those girls looks like that and maybe that's why they are so good at the discipline: they have the experience and a tiny body maybe they are, maybe they aren't. We must stop asking this, the rule is dumb!, if a 14 year old can compete, they should let her compete!, or she has to wait until 18 to go Olympic. and worse if they are 14, we see them win, and taking away a medal because of that dumb rule is just depressing, and think about USA team "OMG we were beaten by the chinesse kindergarden!" it is not fair for them too, they did a great job, misfortunes are unpredictable.
cali_student cali_student 8 years
Cheating of any kind shouldn't be tolerated. How is it any different if China bent the rules for age or if they bent the rules for performance-enhancing steroids? I don't think it's bad sportsmanship to investigate or suspect when your own team follows the rules and works their butts off to make it to the Olympics. The only crappy thing is that you can't test for this type of cheating as easily as you can for drugs. I feel sorry for the girls on the Chinese gymnastics team for being used by their gov't this way.
pixelhaze pixelhaze 8 years
umm have you ever met any asians?? at 30 they can look 12 .... For my part I'm the same way. I'm hispanic and 23, but people tend to guess 14 :P And out of all the sports, gymnastics is the one that stunts your growth the most, so they're going to look young anyway. Look at the American team, supposedly the captain is 20, but do ANY of those girls look 20 to you? Then again, it might be a hoax after all. I guess we should wait and see . . . .
Isista Isista 8 years
OK, I said I'm not sure. I wouldn't want to say for sure that I think some are underage, since I have no proof. But I think it doesn't matter at this point. The US underperformed; granted they did amazingly, except in the floor exercises. I think that the Chinese government shouldn't have lied about the girls ages (if they did), but I don't think the US deserved to win by default since they obviously didn't compete up to the standards they should have.
JenniferIsabella JenniferIsabella 8 years
Comparing the physical attributes of the Chinese gymnasts to those of Asian Americans is very unfair to those girls. First off, Asian-Americans grow up eating nutrient-rich foods, packed with calcium, protein, and all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal growth and development. On the other hand, those who live in China, especially those born into less well-off families don't necessarily eat enough to sufficiently support their growing bodies. Those of you who live in California and New York may have noticed that many young Asian-American men are at least above average in height and stature, while the older Asian immigrant men are noticeably shorter and smaller. Yes, genetics have a lot to do with Asians being generally smaller in stature compared to people of other races, but diet, especially during our youth, has a lot to do with it too. I can't say for sure if I think they're all over 16. They may be, but I definitely wouldn't be surprised if some of those girls are, in fact, 14. What I do think, though, is that the American coach was just being a sore loser who can't accept the fact that nerves and the ability to perform under intense pressure is just as important as physical talent during this kind of competition.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i do think that some of the chinese gymnasts are under age - it's hard to say for sure since they can just look really young - but there are 2 that REALLY look young - younger than 16 - even if they develop late. i think that it's one of those things that you'll never be able to prove though - cause if the governemtn wants their girls to compete, they have lots of powers and abilities to make it happen. i would like to say that it's all fair and legitimate, but i don't know.
Chloe08 Chloe08 8 years
No way. Two of them looked like they were 10 years old.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 8 years
Wow poetess good point! Also Maybe that girl doesnt have a tooth because she doesnt have very good dental care in her country :?
Giorgioiscute Giorgioiscute 8 years
One person here said the American woman should have done better - just look at the men and how great they did when they weren't expected to do much of anything. The men won BRONZE and the woman won SILVER. It's all about expectations. Wouldn't it be nice if no one expected the American women to win a medal and they won silver - then this would be a feel good story with more focus on the gymnastics. I wish the tv coverage would have shown a few other countries compete. Then people could have seen how great the Chinese and American gymnasts actually were compared to the rest of the competition (hence 1st and 2nd place). They got a silver and that's something to be very proud of. The Chinese were really good and congrats to them for winning the gold. As for being younger - it would be great if the rules had been followed but in the end - the Chinese women won outright. They were better and more solid. I don't see how being 14 gives someone an advantage anyway - one of the girls is 4'6 and 68 pounds. I am blown away that someone that size can do what she did. Amazing.
cerealchan cerealchan 8 years
I'm not happy that this issue came up - while they do look much younger than their age, they were CHOSEN when they were young for how light and effortlessly they could do gymnastics. It is only reasonable that they happened to be small too - Cheng Fei (the 20 year old) only looks 16 to me, and I happen to be a Chinese person who grew up in Beijing. Due to the eating and lifestyle that the Chinese have in comparison to the Americans, it's obvious that there would be differences. In reality, the heights of Americans and Europeans are incredibly advanced, while by genetics Asians are generally much smaller and younger looking. I know a 18 year old girl who is smaller than the smallest Chinese women's gymnast, and she looked 10. It might be an incredible coincidence that some of the members look much younger than 16, but I just think people are being incredibly sore losers. After all, many do look like the a reasonable age of 16 in terms of Asian appearances, so why bother? By the way, that Russian guy they interviewed - he behaved the same way about the other opposing teams in Sydney 2000, so generally his heart and attitude is incredibly bad mannered and unsportsmanlike, in comparison to the US women's team. Bravo to the girls, but not to this man who is an incredible sore loser. Hearts to Alicia, Nastia, and Shawn and the rest of the team.
apinkpony apinkpony 8 years
Those Chinese girls look way, way young. The American girls look young too, but they look appropriately young. I grew up in a largely-asian town, and although my asian friends definitely looked younger than the rest of us, they still didn't ever look that much younger. These girls aren't 16, they're children. Either way though, they won fair and square. I wish the US could have won, but we didn't. Oh well. Next time! I also don't think the Karolyli's were trying to point things out in attempt to get at the gold metal. It really doesn't matter at this point.
xxgiantslovexx xxgiantslovexx 8 years
Im not rally sure if the Chinese gymnast are really 16 but i dont think they should have ever put up the rule that you have to be 16 to compete. Many of the gymnast arent as good when they get older and some of the best gymnast were in the olympics when they were only 14 (ex. Nadia Comaneci & Dominique Moceanu) who probably wouldnt have been leaders of their teams if they had to wait 4 more years to compete in the olympics.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
Sounds like a case of sore losers to me. Especially about the "disruption" part. Puh-lease. When you're at the top, someone's always gonna want to take you down.
apma apma 8 years
The US should have gotten the silver. There's no question about that. However, a person's birthday does not change. How can a girl go from having her birthday be in 1994 to 1992 in a few months? If they are underage, it'll all come out eventually.
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
NO! Most of them look 10 or 12.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
Yes, I think some of the gymnasts are underage. Oh well. However, I do give them the benefit of the doubt. When I graduated from college, I was told I look like I was 12 years old. Now I'm in my 30's, and I get mistaken for a high school student. It's embarrassing.
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