Monthly Archives: July 2008

Response to He Kexin Age Falsification Claims

First off, 8 days left!!!  I am writing this post due to the comments being written over my last post about He Kexin and the Age Controversy.

Please take all of this message in a friendly tone, because that is exactly how I am trying to write it….

I will give you my updated opinion here, and please no one take it personal.

-First off, I agree that cheating is wrong.  But I am a firm believer that NOTHING is black and white, to me it is all gray, and I try to always think of the opposite perspective.  In that light, I don’t think doping and age falsification are one the exact same plane.  Whether or not He Kexin is of the correct age, she can perform her brilliant routine without drugs, and to me, that is different than someone who can only be the best at their sport with the aid of some substance to improve their skill.

-Secondly, I have no official clear opinion of what I think of this because I do not agree with the age rule in the first place as I believe the best in the world have the right to compete with the best in the world.  Now I know the many thoughts that people take with the age rule, but in this day and age I don’t think one can excel in this sport without being able to deal with the pressure.  For example, Sui Lu I thought would SO be on the Chinese Team but poor performances (unable to deal with the pressure) kept her off that spot whereas He Kexin I haven’t seen fumble.  (Of course, we will see what happens in less than two weeks yaaaay!).  So I am completely in limbo, because I think it is wrong to cheat but I don;t agree with the established rule.

-Next, although I post all these articles I do so because it is in the news, and I called this one last year.  I am so afraid of scandals ruining the Olympics.   Regardless of how much evidence seems to be out there at this point, we must remember that yes, the American Media is not something we should buy into all the time.  (I am not saying that this means it is all untrue).  I don’t believe everything I read.  I admit I think that there is evidence that really points to guilty, but since I can’t speak intelligently on the Chinese Media and how their system works, I can’t say for sure all of this stuff is true.

-One thing I would like everyone’s opinion on is this….  I originally thought that we (Americans) were blowing this out of proportion because of the strength of the Chinese Team and whatnot.  But you know what I think now?  I think technology has the largest hand in all of this.  Think about youtube.  This is the first Olympic quadrennium in which we have had youtube, which enables us to be in touch with EVERY meet that went on.  Without it, we wouldn’t have had any real visualization of what He Kexin looked like (pictures are nothing compared to videos IMO) and since they don’t televise World Cups and China’s domestic meets, we wouldn’t have access to seeing her.  Also, blogs have blown up to be the new ‘news’ on the internet (much more popular than prior to 04′ right?  I’m not sure.)  At any rate, the internet allows more and more communication to develop as technology increases.

To make a comparison I think about the invention of the cell phone.  50 years ago, you want to contact someone?  Write them a letter, make the occasional long distance phone call.  With the cell phone we can call anyone in the world, and be in contact as much as we want with someone who lives where ever far away, and that enables so much more drama in our lives….

-Lastly,  I am so excited.  I refuse to let any of this take away from what I have been waiting four years to see!  I have ALWAYS loved the Chinese team, and this battle will be so intense.  I would love to see my home country win, but I would also love to see the Chinese win for the first time, and on their own turf, too.  I hope beyond hope that this will not ruin the Olympics Games, it would break my heart.

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Paul Hamm Withdraws

I seriously am in shock. Paul Hamm just withdrew his spot on the Olympic Team.

Read it here on International Gymnast.

I can’t stop thinking the following things:

1. Seriously, wow. Is this somehow a joke? I DID NOT think this was going to happen.

2. Will Raj Bhavsar finally get his chance and be the feel-good story on the US Men’s Team? Or will they give it to someone else?

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Another Article With Proof He Kexin is Underage

Oh wow. This is getting crazy when publications like New York Times and USA Today take interest.  EDIT-  It is now on NBC’s site, as well as Yahoo.

USA Today releases this article:

Are Chinese gymnasts too young for Olympics?
Posted 7h 17m ago | Comment | Recommend E-mail | Save | Print | Subscribe to stories like this
BEIJING (AP) — Two female Chinese gymnasts, including a gold-medal favorite, might be too young to participate in the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Several online records and reports show He Kexin, the host nation’s top competitor on uneven bars, and Jiang Yuyuan might not yet be 16, the minimum age for Olympic eligibility. Both were chosen for China’s team last week.

On the Web site of the Chengdu Sports Bureau – Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China – a file dated January 2006 shows He Kexin as being born Jan. 1, 1994.

Most recently, a May 23 story in the China Daily newspaper, the official English-language paper of the Chinese government, had He’s age as 14.

The newspaper story begins: “The 14-year old newcomer to the national team, who was recruited last year, has raised a lot of eyebrows recently after she broke two world records on the uneven bars in as many months.”

The New York Times raised questions about the athletes’ ages in a story Saturday. And Chinese officials provided the newspaper with copies of passports indicating both gymnasts are 16.

But in a speech on Nov. 3, 2007, in the central city of Wuhan, Liu Peng, director of general administration of sport for China, said: “The 13-year-old uneven-bar gymnast He Kexin, who defeated national team athlete Yang Yilin – she just won the bronze medal in the world championships – has demonstrated her ability.”

To be eligible for the Cities Games where Liu made his remarks, Chinese documents show athletes must be over 13, but under 15.

The New York Times reported International Gymnastics Federation officials acknowledged questions about He’s age had been raised and asked the Chinese for clarification in May.

“We heard these rumors, and we immediately wrote to the Chinese gymnastics federation,” Andre Gueisbuhler, the secretary general of the international federation, told the newspaper. “They immediately sent a copy of the passport, showing the age, and everything is OK. That’s all we can check.

“As long as we have no official complaint, there is no reason to act, if we get a passport that obviously is in order.”

The American and Chinese women are expected to battle for the team gold medal when the Beijing Games begin Aug. 8.

He is one of the few athletes in the world who has scored over a 17 under the new scoring system. Using He and Yang Yilin, who also has scored a 17 on bars, the Chinese hope to use the uneven bars to build up a big advantage in the team competition.

The Americans, who won the 2007 world championships team title, have only one gymnast, Nastia Liukin, who’s gotten a 17 on bars.

If gymnasts He, a gold-medal favorite, and Jiang are under age, it would be yet another black eye for China in the buildup to the games.

In June, Chinese swimmer Ouyang Kunpeng and coach Feng Shangbao were permanently banned from the sport after Ouyang tested positive for anabolic steroids. Wrestler Luo Meng and his coach also were barred for life for a doping violation by the athlete.

The Chinese government is working feverishly to present a positive image of an open, friendly, progressive nation. But visa restrictions, toxic air pollution, freedom of the press issues and a problem-filled torch relay have presented a far different image to the world.
The Associated Press

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Age Falsification Debate Gets Crazier!

The New York Times released this article. This is the most information received thus far about the Chinese Age Debate. Very interesting stuff, check it out….

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/sp…in&oref=slogin

Issues of Age Seem to Follow Chinese Gymnasts

By JERÉ LONGMAN and JULIET MACUR
Published: July 27, 2008
China named its Olympic women’s gymnastics team on Friday, and the inclusion of at least two athletes has further raised questions, widespread in the sport, about whether the host nation for the Beijing Games is using under-age performers.

Chinese officials responded immediately, providing The New York Times with copies of passports indicating that both athletes in question — He Kexin, a gold-medal favorite in the uneven parallel bars, and Jiang Yuyuan — are 16, the minimum age for Olympic eligibility.

Officials with the International Gymnastics Federation said that questions about He’s age had been raised by Chinese news media reports, USA Gymnastics and fans of the sport, but that Chinese authorities presented passport information to show that He is 16.

Online records listing Chinese gymnasts and their ages that were posted on official Web sites in China, along with ages given in the official Chinese news media, however, seem to contradict the passport information, indicating that He and Jiang may be as young as 14 — two years below the Olympic limit.

Mary Lou Retton, the Olympic all-around gymnastics champion at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, recently watched a competition video of He and other Chinese gymnasts on the uneven bars.

“The girls are so little, so young,” Retton said. Speaking of He, Retton rolled her eyes and laughed, saying, “They said she was 16, but I don’t know.”

An advantage for younger gymnasts is that they are lighter and, often, more fearless when they perform difficult maneuvers, said Nellie Kim, a five-time Olympic gold medalist for the former Soviet Union who is now the president of the women’s technical committee for the Swiss-based International Gymnastics Federation.

“It’s easier to do tricks,” Kim said. “And psychologically, I think they worry less.”

The women’s gymnastics competition at the Beijing Games, which begin Aug. 8, is expected to be a dramatic battle for the team gold medal between the United States and China. At the 2007 world championships, the Americans prevailed by 95-hundredths of a point.

On the uneven bars, He and Nastia Liukin of the United States are expected to challenge for an individual gold medal.

In Chinese newspaper profiles this year, He was listed as 14, too young for the Beijing Games.

The Times found two online records of official registration lists of Chinese gymnasts that list He’s birthday as Jan. 1, 1994, which would make her 14. A 2007 national registry of Chinese gymnasts — now blocked in China but viewable through Google cache — shows He’s age as “1994.1.1.”

Another registration list that is unblocked, dated Jan. 27, 2006, and regarding an “intercity” competition in Chengdu, China, also lists He’s birthday as Jan. 1, 1994. That date differs by two years from the birth date of Jan. 1, 1992, listed on He’s passport, which was issued Feb. 14, 2008.

There has been considerable talk about the ages of Chinese gymnasts on Web sites devoted to the sport. And there has been frequent editing of He’s Wikipedia entry, although it could not be determined by whom. One paragraph that discusses the controversy of her age kept disappearing and reappearing on He’s entry. As of Friday, a different version of the paragraph had been restored to the page.

The other gymnast, Jiang, is listed on her passport — issued March 2, 2006 — as having been born on Nov. 1, 1991, which would make her 17 in November and thus eligible to compete at the Beijing Games.

A different birth date, indicating Jiang is not yet 15, appears on a list of junior competitors from the Zhejiang Province sports administration. The list of athletes includes national identification card numbers into which birth dates are embedded. Jiang’s national card number as it appears on this list shows her birth date as Oct. 1, 1993, which indicates that she will turn 15 in the fall, and would thus be ineligible to compete in the Beijing Games.

Zhang Hongliang, an official with the Chinese gymnastics federation, said Friday that perhaps Chinese reporters and provincial sports authorities made mistakes in listing He’s and Jiang’s birth dates differently from the dates given on their passports.

“The two athletes have attended international sports competitions before, and I’m sure the information is correct,” Zhang said of the athletes’ passports.

The International Gymnastics Federation said it had contacted Chinese officials in May about the gymnasts’ ages after receiving inquiries from fans and reading newspaper accounts, including one in The China Daily, the country’s official English-language paper, stating that He was 14.

“We heard these rumors, and we immediately wrote to the Chinese gymnastics federation” about He, said André Gueisbuhler, the secretary general of the international federation. “They immediately sent a copy of the passport, showing the age, and everything is O.K. That’s all we can check.”

If someone provided proof that any gymnast was under age, or filed a formal complaint, Gueisbuhler said, he would be “quite happy to check and ask again.”

“As long as we have no official complaint, there is no reason to act, if we get a passport that obviously is in order,” he said.

Steve Penny, the president of USA Gymnastics, said he had asked Kim of the international federation about He’s age after receiving e-mail messages referring to newspaper accounts and comments made on blogs and in Internet chat rooms that said she was 14. But Penny said he was not really concerned.

“If they have valid passports, bring ’em on,” Penny said. “If they say they’re good, we’re going to beat them.

“You can’t worry about it. You do your job, and you expect other people are doing theirs and you expect it’s a fair field of play.”

Privately, some gymnastics officials said that even if other countries had real concerns about the Chinese, they might be reluctant to make accusations for fear of reprisals by judges at the Beijing Games.

If it is true that under-age gymnasts are competing, Kim of the international federation said: “It’s a bad thing. It should not be acceptable.”

Yang Yun of China won individual and team bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and later said in an interview on state-run television that she had been 14 at the time of those Games. A Hunan Province sports administration report also said later that she had been 14 when she competed in Sydney.

Bela Karolyi, who coached Retton of the United States and Nadia Comaneci of Romania to their Olympic gold-medal triumphs, said the problem of under-age gymnasts had been around for years. Age is an easy thing to alter in an authoritarian country, he said, because the government has such strict control of official paperwork.

He recalled Kim Gwang Suk, a North Korean gymnast who showed up at the 1991 world championships with two missing front teeth. Karolyi, who said he thought Kim must have been younger than 11 at the time, and others contended those front teeth had been baby teeth and that permanent teeth had not yet replaced them. Her coaches said she had lost them years before, during a small accident in the gym.

At the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, Kim was 4 feet 4 inches, about 65 pounds and claimed to be 17. At one point, the North Korean Gymnastics Federation listed her at 15 for three straight years; the federation was later barred from the 1993 world championships for falsifying ages.

“Oh, come on, she was just in diapers and everyone could see that, just like some of the Chinese girls are now,” Karolyi said. “If you look close, you can see they still have their baby teeth. Little tiny teeth!”

But it is not likely that anyone could prove that the Chinese gymnasts are under age, Karolyi said.

“It’s literally impossible,” he said. “The paperwork is changed just too good. In a country like that, they’re experts at it. Nothing new.”

So what do you guys think?  Pretty interesting huh?  I keep saying this, but I must again: IF IT IS DETERMINED DURING THE OLYMPICS THAT THERE ARE UNDERAGE GYMNASTS AND MEDALS GET STRIPPED I MAY LOSE ALL MY FAITH IN HUMANITY.

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Updated thoughts on Event Finals

So now that we are only two weeks from the start of the Olympic Games, I thought I would update what and who of the Event Finals.  After all, we know who is competing minus two spots on the Russian Team which will be announced shortly.  Remember guys, this is just my opinion!

So here is my post from my previous predictions and I will also look at how my viewpoint now varies.

Vault-

The Finalists-  Cheng Fei, Hong Su Jong, and Alicia Sacramone will be finalists.  Period.  There is no way I see them unable to qualify.  I also still think that Cheng and Hong can qualify even if they count a fall (assuming they both do the 6.5 A-score vaults).

Rounding out the other five spots I think will be Oksana Chusovitina and Jade Barbosa, both are very good vaulters, the same which I thought before.  Who else is doing well on the vaulting scene?  I am thinking at least one Russian will be in there, and I think Anna Pavlova is the front runner on that side.  They may even nab another spot, a couple girls featured on gymnast.com have some exceptional DTY’s.

Differences from previous post- Elena Zamolodchikova isn’t going, so she won’t qualify.  Pretty much is the same.  Also, I think an Italian may possibly sneak in there, I have been hearing Amanar rumors about (I think) Carlotta Giovanni.

Guesstimate on the Medalists- Cheng, Hong, Sacramone. (No specific order)

Uneven Bars-

The Finalists- Without a doubt I think Nastia Liukin, He Kexin, and Yang Yilin will qualify.  I also think that Beth Tweddle, Ksenia Semenova, and (probably) Steliana Nistor will find themselves in there.

That leaves two spots left.  I think Marie Sophie Hindermann and Chellsie Memmel will do it.  The British have been getting a lot better on bars so maybe they will change this.  Who knows.

Differences from previous post- Seems I replaced Memmel for the thought of Daria Zygoba.

Guesstimate on the medalists– He, Yilin, Liukin.  (No specific order)

Beam-

Finalists- Without a doubt I think Shawn Johnson and Li Shanshan will make finals.  Rounding out the other six spots I think there will be one more American, two Russians, two Romanians, and probably another Chinese.  Although I would normally put Nastia in there automatically, I am not so sure anymore.  Memmel and Sacramone are capable of scoring higher due to higher A-scores, but we will have to see because I don’t think they can match the execution scores of Liukin.  I also can’t speak about how scoring will ride in Beijing because it always seems to vary.  The last World Championships seem to favor difficulty, but I have a feeling execution may be weighed a bit more.  Two Russians in the spot are between Pavolva, Semenova, and also Lyudmilla Yezhova  Grebenkova (if she is selected onto the team).    Steliana Nistor and Sandra Izbasa have room to sneak in there.   For the last Chinese member I would say Deng Linlin or maybe Cheng Fei.  I think there is room for Australia’s Lauren Mitchell to come in there and bump someone out of this lineup.

Differences from previous postYulia Lozechko and Sui Lu are not on the teams, so aren’t qualifying.  And orginally I didn’t factor in Pavlova.  I also mentioned Stefani Bismpkou whom I now don’t think will qualify but would LOVE to see qualify.  Mitchell wasn’t in my orginal post either.

Guesstimate on the medalists- Johnson, Li, 2nd American (No specific order)

Floor-

Finalists- Shawn Johnson, Cheng Fei, and Sandra Izbasa  WILL be in this floor final.   I don’t have Sacramone in there because at this point I think it is questionable that she will even make it!  It is quite possible (if all the upgrades do make that 6.5 or 6.4) for Memmel to bump her off the line here.  Now, if Sacramone upgrades (I hear her score will be at least a 6.4) then with clean routines I think Sacramone will be the one with the higher execution scores.  Regardless, one more American besides Johnson will advance to finals.  So there is half the lineup.  Others who have a shot at this final in my opinion are Daiane Dos Santos, Anna Pavlova, Dasha Joura, Beth Tweddle, Jiang Yuyuan, or even Yang Yilin.  I can’t think of anyone else, I hear Cassy Vericel is still limping around.  I don’t think Vanessa Ferrari will make it due to her foot making her A-score lower.  Out of those mentioned above, I would like to see the last four spots got to Dos Santos, Pavlova, and Joura.  I didn’t pick a last person.  I am not sure.  And I keep thinking I am missing someone key.

Differences from previous post–  Not much.  Sui Lu was mentioned as a possibility and that’s not happening.

Guesstimate on the Medalists- Cheng, Johnson, Izbasa.  (No specific order.  Note:  How happy I would be if Dos Santos won.)

Without a doubt it is going to be a blast.  I can’t decide which EF I am most excited about.  Here is what I am generally looking forward to most in each event:

Vault-  Cheng Fei.  Hands down.  I want Olympic Glory for her.  Sacramone doing her absolute best, and of course the anticipation of her Amanar.  Chusovitina competing her last moments in her final Olympics.

Uneven Bars-  The race between the 7.7 A-score Club.  Without a doubt.  And because I am really thinking Memmel will be in the lineup, another lovely Memmel moment.

Beam-  Shawn Johnson competing.  Beam is also my favorite event usually.  It’s the event with the most adrenaline for me to watch as it is the make or break event.  I really want Shawn to win gold here.

Floor-  Cheng and Johnson again make this for me.  But the list of competitors that I have the potential to see makes it quite thrilling.  Remember, I am one of those who loves the sentimental favorites.

I can’t believe it all starts in just two weeks.  By the way, I have no idea what the text did to itself in this post.

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Chinese Team Announced Officially

And they are indeed:

Cheng Fei

Jiang Yuyuan

Yang Yilin

He Kexin

Deng Linlin

Pretty much what we expected as it is the same as the nominative roster.  I assume the alternates are Xiao Sha and He Ning

This is going to be one INTENSE team battle!  Two weeks from today the Olympic Games begin!

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First Four Members of the Russian Olympic Team Announced

And they are:

Ksenia Afanasyeva, Yekaterina Kramarenko, Anna Pavlova and Ksenia Semyonova

The big surprise of course is that Yulia Lozhechko will be left off the team.  Read all about it here on International Gymnast Magazine.

The last two spots are between Svetlana Klyukina, Daria Yelizarova and Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova.

My vote is for Grebenkova, and I am hoping she will be needed now that one of the beam all-stars won’t be going.

I am curious, who out there thinks this is a mistake, and that Lozhechko should be on the team?

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