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SI: IOC Ignores Kiddie Gymnasts Controversy


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#1 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 11:53 AM

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IOC turns blind eye to controversy over China's kiddie gymnasts

Story Summary

* China swore on its stars' passport stamps that its gymnasts are the legal age of 16
* The IOC is reluctant to offend the host country by investigating suspicions
* With Kool-Aid running through their veins, the Chinese kids were unflappable

BEIJING -- The Chinese gymnasts could have picked out their leotards from Thumbelina's closet as they performed gymnastics in miniature on Wednesday. Wearing blue eye shadow with their hair pulled back, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin looked like girls who had just rummaged through their mothers' makeup. This was a ladies' final, though somehow it was hard to see how they qualified as women.

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China insists that its gold medal winners -- (from left) Cheng Fei, Yang Yilin, Li Shanshan, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Deng Linlin -- are all 16 or older.

Amid pre-Olympic hand-wringing over why the birthdates of He, Yang and Jiang didn't jibe with other registration materials that showed they might be as young as 14, China swore on its stars' passport stamps that the tots are the legal tumbling age of 16. But while the tiny trio helped their nation whisk the gold medal away from a suddenly clumsy U.S. group in the team competition, it was impossible to deny the visual evidence of something unjust in China.

Just take a peek at the big lugs who stood next to the Chinese team. The U.S. squad is filled with women who are short to be sure, but with a curve to their bodies, muscle on their bones and driver's licenses in their wallets. This is gymnastics, so truth in aging is often blurred by a brutal sport laden with underdeveloped teens. With that context, did little He look sweet 16 in the eyes of other competitors?

"No, but then I don't look 20," said Alicia Sacramone, who did not make excuses after she fell flat while mounting the balance beam. With the U.S. just one point behind China heading into the last rotation, Sacramone ended up on her backside during the floor exercise. It was a mistake that effectively put gold out of reach and delivered a consolation silver to the U.S. "It was my fault," she said.

Blame-shifting is easier for others. While Sacramone revealed grace, U.S. coach Martha Karolyi revealed her doubts, feeding the age conspiracy issue by saying, "I have no clue [if they are 16]. I cannot make that call. ... It could be true. One little girl has a missing tooth."

This dental obsession must be a Karolyi family trait. Her husband, Bela, made a similar assessment last week before the competition began, bellowing, "Look in their mouths. It's like itty bitty teeth."

The investigation into the mouths of babes has been far from intensive. Basically the international gymnastics federation agrees with the birth date evidence provided by Chinese officials. And that is that. The Olympic caretaker of fairness, the IOC, has stayed largely out of the debate, with its members ever cautious not to offend host China. They see blue skies when others see pollution. They distanced themselves from Olympian Joey Cheek when his visa was revoked. They don't dare rattle sponsors who crave the consumer love of 1.3 billion people.

This brushfire is not politics, though the IOC has acted as if it is. The age suspicion is a field of play issue. Any violation of the age requirements is an act of cheating, an issue that the IOC has always cared deeply about, particularly when it comes to doping.

"[Age] is a bigger problem than doping," Bela Karolyi said. "I think it's more cheating than doping. To look in the eye of everybody and to show up with a team underage? My god, it's not good."

No amount of Bela-aching is likely to alter the outcome. The last time IOC president Jacques Rogge meddled with the medals was at the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002. In a rush to soothe North American audiences who, along with NBC commentators, went crackers when the beautiful Canadians lost the pairs skating gold to the Russians amid the French judge scandal, Rogge allowed a duplicate gold, bending to public rage. Never mind that the Canadians performed an inferior program to the Russians.

So do not expect a peep out of the IOC this time, no matter how angered American fans might be. If Rogge & Co. were ever going to stick their noses in this delicate case, it should have been last month when The New York Times raised the contradictory age calculations for the Chinese gymnasts.

"It's not an even playing field," Martha Karolyi said. She understands that China was the better team in the finals. She knows the U.S. sabotaged itself with missteps. But she is right. Age has a lot to do with what's level in gymnastic competitions. There is a mental advantage for youngsters who are clueless about pressure, unaware of what wobbles the burden to win can create. Maybe that was Sacramone's problem. She is a veteran at 20 -- ready for bingo in gymnastic years -- and old enough to know what one flawed moment can mean in a team competition. Halfway through the team finals, she came unglued. "My nerves got the better of me," she said.

The young seem immune to meltdowns. With Kool-Aid running through their veins, China's gymnasts were unflappable -- especially He in the uneven bars. What an edge she had at 4-foot-8 and 73 pounds, flitting through the uneven bars with jaw-dropping release moves, light as a dragonfly. The judges adored He, whatever her age.

"I don't want to make a comment on that," said Liang Chow, the coach of American Shawn Johnson. "I believe the officials will deal with it. I'll leave it at that."

Gymnastics officials have dealt with it -- approving the age of China's gymnasts based on China-issued papers. The IOC blindly bought into this resolution, unconditionally devoted to China, seeing no need to doubt its flying Thumbelinas.

They said they were supposed to be at least 16. Seriously, about 2 or 3 of em', looked 5 or 7 at most. Disgusting.

To further elaborate, I know about all the stories of how much they emphasize winning to extremes and even start stretching & training these girls since they're like 3 or 4 or even younger. I've seen videos, emotional testimony interviews, etc. I think it sucks.

I think a lot of these girls are truly forced & of course eventually they oblige, sometimes they have no choice, & all the pressure that is put on em'/the lack of personal freedom. They try to make it look all dandy & nice, but behind the scenes, it's a whole nother story I'm sure & well I mean a little girl like that doing this stuff in the olympics & breaking the rules, making false birth certificates or however they do it, it's just not right.

#2 SaintNicholasVanExel

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 12:05 PM

"It could be true. One little girl has a missing tooth."

That's almost proof enough for me.. jeez.

There's no way some of those girls are 16. I agree with you 5-7 at most for some of them.
ridiculous.
My whole family stayed up until 12:30 to watch the final last night, and just about every time they showed a closeup of one of the Chinese girls' faces, we all sighed in disbelief.

It's no wonder the Chinese are winning all of these precision-skill events (M&W Gym, Sync Diving, ect...). It's all a big machine.

#3 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 12:25 PM

Eddie Guerrero - "If you're not cheating, you're not trying." ?

RIP.

#4 pound4pound

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 12:30 PM

no f'n way those girls are 16
QUOTE ("Jerry Buss")
One of the biggest reasons I bought the Lakers was to beat the Celtics …..you just got it into your soul that you couldn't stand the Celtics anymore

#5 Icker

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 02:16 PM

how does this matter, a couple of 14 year old girls whoop our [expletive] at gymnastics, think bout that

#6 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 02:18 PM

^ It matters because it's cheating. You're supposed to be at least 16. Plus, the shorter, smaller, & much younger girls like that always have an unfair advantage.

#7 Icker

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 02:28 PM

oh, well this sport suits you more then me, i watch the volleyball

#8 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 02:30 PM

^ So do I, but I'm just stating some facts, it's all good.

#9 Icker

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 02:32 PM

ok, well i never did any of that crap they do, and whenever i try to watch them they put the effin men on

#10 Vaporize

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 02:42 PM

I was watching also and one of the girls introduced showed she was only 15. But later on they said if you turn 16 the same year as the Olympics you could be qualified. I also saw the girl with the missing tooth, near the top middle.

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#11 MDI

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 02:59 PM

but whats the advantage of having these "youngins"...won't they have stage fright?

9u6kvo.png

 

Props to sidthekid871


#12 SaintNicholasVanExel

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 03:29 PM

but whats the advantage of having these "youngins"...won't they have stage fright?

They don't have feelings.

#13 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 05:51 PM

^ Exactly. MDI, you must not know the system & kind of training the Chinese put their girls through. It's business and I mean hardcore business.

#14 nameant

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 06:32 PM

These younger girls have no pressure on them b/c they don't know what pressure is. They're children for crying out loud. They don't know what rests on their performances. They're going out there and doing what they were machined to do. The younger you are, the more flexible/lighter you are. Our US women looked like body builders compared to those kids. In the end, whatever you know? China was supposed to win. Everybody knows those girls weren't 16. You'd have to be a fool to not only believe they were 16 but to believe that China would actually tell the truth about it. We're talking about a country that takes these kids from their families at the age of 3 and works them like machines to become gymnasts, whether they want to or not. They get to see their families once a year. What kind of life is that? Even if you win the Gold, where is the pride in it? They're workhorses. They'll chew them up and spit them out and move on to the next toddler. After the Olympics, our US women will go home to their family and friends, they'll return to their lives. Gymnastics is something they work extremely hard on, but they do it for fun and they do it b/c they love it. They don't do it b/c they have to. I don't blame the little girls at all. They have no say in the matter. It's just sad to me. Could you imagine being ripped from your family at the age of 3 and only being able to see them once a year all the while being worked day in and day out to be something and be somewhere you don't want to be?

#15 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 07:04 PM

Wow, excellent post nameant. I could've have said it myself any better EVER. You just owned this thread. Excellence. Props.

#16 lakerfool

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 08:46 PM

They don't have feelings.

Considering these kids come from impoverished families, and a gold medal brings prosperity to their family, they have tons of feelings and things upon their shoulder.

For the US athletes, most of those Gymnists come from upper middle class suburban homes.

Chinese athletes have MUCh more at stake than any American. I don't buy the 'they have nothing to lose' mantra. Complete bull[expletive] if you see the conditions that some Chinese towns are in.
Gooden>> Lamar Odom. Mo Williams>> Ray Allen>> Gasol. Nene= Gasol.

#17 lakerfool

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 08:50 PM

These younger girls have no pressure on them b/c they don't know what pressure is. They're children for crying out loud. They don't know what rests on their performances. They're going out there and doing what they were machined to do. The younger you are, the more flexible/lighter you are. Our US women looked like body builders compared to those kids. In the end, whatever you know? China was supposed to win. Everybody knows those girls weren't 16. You'd have to be a fool to not only believe they were 16 but to believe that China would actually tell the truth about it. We're talking about a country that takes these kids from their families at the age of 3 and works them like machines to become gymnasts, whether they want to or not. They get to see their families once a year. What kind of life is that? Even if you win the Gold, where is the pride in it? They're workhorses. They'll chew them up and spit them out and move on to the next toddler. After the Olympics, our US women will go home to their family and friends, they'll return to their lives. Gymnastics is something they work extremely hard on, but they do it for fun and they do it b/c they love it. They don't do it b/c they have to. I don't blame the little girls at all. They have no say in the matter. It's just sad to me. Could you imagine being ripped from your family at the age of 3 and only being able to see them once a year all the while being worked day in and day out to be something and be somewhere you don't want to be?


Their pressure is to save their family from poverty.

The US gymnastic team make of a wealthier demographic of a 1st world country. They don't do it because they have to. They do it to get out of poverty. The families oblige because they have dreams of their child becoming stars, and getting endorsements, and a better life, instead of working in a sweatshop all day.

For the US and other Western team, if they don't win gold big whoop. They write about their olympic experience and get into an Ivy League school, or keep doing gymnastics in college on a full scholarship.

This concept that the Chinese have no pressure because they are younger is completely outweighed by the fact that their success lifts them out of poverty whereas the US team is filled with privileged children.

This whole argument is simply US whining and inability to give credit to other nations when they succeed. The fact that 12-14 year olds from a 3rd world country beat a bunch of wealtheri 16-20 year olds makes Chinese victory MORE impressive. These children in the end have MORE pressure than US kids because this lifts their family out of poverty if successful, whether they are younger or not, and at the same time they are put at greater disadvantage due to a less developed physique at earlier ages.

US citizens just can't stand Asians doing anything better. That's the main point.

Edited by lakerfool, August 13, 2008 - 08:52 PM.

Gooden>> Lamar Odom. Mo Williams>> Ray Allen>> Gasol. Nene= Gasol.

#18 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 08:55 PM

Lmao, now I know why lakerfool was Xepa. Exactly the same. :lol:

#19 lakerfool

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 09:13 PM

Argue the points :)

1. Age is irrelevant, Chinese girls less developed body puts them at a possible disadvantage

2. Pressure: These Chinese girls have more because most come from poor families. A victory means financial security for their family. USA girls have less pressure...it's well known that Gymnastics in America is a upper middle class suburban sport...worse case scenario is they get a full scholarship to do gymnastics for a big college

3. US needs to shut up and accept that a better team beat them. Stop being sore losers.
Gooden>> Lamar Odom. Mo Williams>> Ray Allen>> Gasol. Nene= Gasol.

#20 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 09:29 PM

^ Lmao, so I am right. Well there's no point in this case cuz we're just gonna' keep agreeing to disagree. I see it & interpret things one way & you another. I don't know how much investigations/research you've done and or how many documentaries or stuff you've read, but based on everything I've seen, that is why I feel the way I do.

You've always had a knack for almost purposely trying to choose the opposing side sometimes just because. It's kinda' funny actually, not knocking your opinion, but I've just noticed throughout your posting time as this & Xepa..




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