Tag Archives: age falsification

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.



Filed under Uncategorized

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….


Issues of Age Seem to Follow Chinese Gymnasts

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.”



Filed under Uncategorized

What Makes and Breaks the Olympics

28 days until the Olympics. I can hardly believe that I have waited for four years for this, and it is hardly a month away.

Although I will arrange everything so that I don’t miss a single, solitary second of Women’s or Men’s Gymnastics, it is about more than that to me. Every free moment I have, I will be glued to the television set.

The Olympics for me, represent what is seemingly lost these days in life; absolute true beauty. There is nothing more exciting to me than watch the best moments of people’s lives. And I will cry, cry, cry, as I watch these events and moments unfold because it is simply too perfect. It’s so beautiful that my heart breaks wide open for these people all over the world.

So while watching the “Beijing Olympics” section ON DEMAND on Comcast Cable I stumbled upon “The Top 5 Heartbreaks.” And here is what I saw, half asleep at 2am that made me pour out buckets of tears. What gets me so excited for August 8th to 24th.

In the 1992 Barcelona Games, British runner Derek Redmond competes in the semi-finals for the 400m race. Plagued by injuries throughout his career, Redmond goes down with a leg injury. (He had posted the best time during the first round, and won the quarter-finals). He gets up, pushing people away and hobbling to finish the race. He is joined by his father who holds on to him, as Redmond sobs into his shoulder.

Runner Hicham El Geurrouj of Morocco was one of the best of the best at the 1500 meters. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, a fall took him out of the race. Four years later at the Sydney Games, he is beat last second by Kenyan Noah Ngeny. For the 2004 Athens Games, El Geurrouj was not expected to be contending for the gold. And at the last moment he narrowly wins the gold over Kenyan Bernard Lagat (who won the bronze in Sydney) who himself gets down onto his hands and knees and cries with El Geurrouj. There is nothing like seeing victory, but it makes it ten times better for me to see those from other countries who just miss out on their dream to be so happy for the one who did win. The world lacks that so much today. Human beings are so selfish and cruel to one another, and the Olympics demonstrate the very best sides of people.

So with that said, I realize I have a small fear that has been building for these Olympic Games. I am afraid of what kind of scandal or controversy can ruin it for me or more importantly, the athletes. I have blogged about this before, but I am getting increasingly worried about the age debate over gymnast He Kexin. Because at this point, I cannot believe what a wide consensus the world of gymnastics has over her being underage. I can’t believe the major publications and whatnot that state this.

The Olympics are the only time gymnastics is a headlining sport. And there has been a major controversy every year as far as I can remember. Let’s say hypothetically that China wins team gold, and He wins the uneven bars gold. Suddenly, there is a major news break that discovers that He is underage. Major headlines. They decide to strip China of team gold, and He of uneven bar gold. Major, major headlines. Better TV ratings.

My point is, if this happens I will lose faith in humanity. A part of me will truly die. The only reason I say this is a possibility is because it is so widely believed. And the fact that event finals have been split in 3 days in an odd order (which is there to increase ratings; an extra night of gymnastics) make me wonder what else they would do to increase ratings. IF there are underage gymnasts on the Chinese team, there is proof now. Do something now, don’t wait until the Games. Don’t ruin the moments, people’s lives, or my faith. Don’t “fix” it.  Don’t fix destiny.  Don’t make destroy anything else with Politics.


Filed under Uncategorized

What’s Going on in the World of Gymnastics Right Now

I have been vacationing since Thursday and have just caught up on the gymnastics scene.

It is now 32 days until the Olympic Games begin and there are numerous things going on in the world of gymnastics. Here are the random things going on that have caught my interest…

Russian Cup Happenings-

Russia has the potential for a GREAT beam lineup in Beijing. Anna Pavlova won the Russian Cup with a 16.075, followed by Lyudmila Grebenkova with a 16.000, and Yulia Lozhecko with a 15.925, that’s pretty solid! It looks like Pavlova is really pulling it together. She has the potential to make both beam and vault finals, and it would also be great to see her on floor as her new routine is very pretty.

Russia announced their training squad which is Ksenia Afanasyeva, Kristina Goryunova, Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova, Svetlana Klyukina, Yekaterina Kramarenko, Yulia Lozhechko, Anna Pavlova, Kristina Pravdina, Ksenia Semyonova and Daria Yelizarova. The biggest shocker of course is that Elena Zamolodchikova is not apart of the training squad. That is really sad. I wanted to see her in a 3rd Olympics. Furthermore, I am a sucker for the sentimental stories and veterans which is why I would have loved seeing her on the team.

Other news in the world includes the Mediterraneo Gym Cup. For results of the Russian Cup and this event click here. Two stories have stuck out that I feel like discussing;

Daiane Dos Santos. First off, go watch her routine on youtube. She has improved A LOT on floor since the last event I watched her in. Speaking of sentimental favorites, she is also one. I believe that she is one of the best tumblers in WAG of all time. It is great to see her look this fantastic. Please note that the consensus among gym fans is that this meet was scored quite low, which makes sense because I don’t know how this floor routine received a 8.3 B-score. Although a couple of things got devalued, this is MUCH improved, and tumbling is getting close to being back to par. Dos Santos has also stated that she is upgrading more. Someone who performs only “E” or higher tumbling passes is just awesome. I hope it looks that way. I REALLY want her in Finals this August.

Vanessa Ferrari. Oh dear, what is going on? Vanessa has told Italian newspapers that her foot is just too damaged, and won’t be at her best for Beijing. I strongly believe that she will not medal. I really feel bad for her because I like the fact that someone was succeeding from a non-power country like Italy. I am also Italian so maybe I am biased. I wasn’t her biggest fan but I loved her 06′-07′ floor routine. I know I am in the minority with that one.

I am not a fan of Sandra Izbasa‘s floor routine. That’s right I said it. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever. But I really like Izbasa.  She and Rebecca Bross are my favorite twisters. (And I think Cheng Fei and Ivana Hong are among the prettiest twisters).  However, my own biased opinion does not like the fact that she does two full-ins.  It looks like the same skill to me.  I don’t mind a piked and tucked arabian; the aesthetic is much different between the two, and therefore more appealing.  Again, just my opinion.

On the men’s side, Marian Dragulescu is back and that makes me happy.  He is one of my favorite MAG’s.

Also, very interesting concerning the Chinese age-falsification debate;  to see a Chinese gym site, please go into the previous post, “Who Will Get the Last Spots….” and look at a commented submitted by David.  There is a link to see the athletes.  And as a comment from Catherine pointed out, there are some interesting birthdays on there.

That’s all for now!


Filed under Uncategorized

More Juice on He Kexin

oooooooooh.  Go read Gymnastics Coaching.  Excellent discovery.  This is more about the article that just came out which states He Kexin is only 14.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Thoughts on the age discrepancy with Chinese gymnasts

Recently among the gymnastic message boards there has been a lot of talk about the ages of some the Chinese, notably He Kexin.  (wwgym is very appealing to me)    

Many people have claimed that it was well known that He was and IS still a junior, born in 1994, not 1992.  This has lead to other discussions about several of the other Chinese gymnasts not being of age either.  Some claiming that ALL of the current Olympic prospects are underage with exception of Cheng Fei.  There have then also been a couple of claims that even Cheng just turned 17 last year! (a rumored photograph of her at her birthday, only 17 candles on the cake.  If anyone can show me this picture I would love to see it!)

One of my most recent thoughts is, “How does something like this not get out?”  The Chinese have media, just like we do.  If suddenly Rebecca Bross was 16 it would be all over the media. But of course, our media gives us everything you could ever know about a person, and controversies are easily sought out because they make sensational stories.  I am not familiar with the media system in China, but one thing I do know a little bit about is their sports philosophy.  To my understanding, the Chinese find  physical well-being quite important.  As that combined with metal well being brings upon a balance, the Qi.  Sports success brings great honor.  I feel that in the US, sports success just brings about fame or money.  Hence, this is why I love watching the Chinese compete; their pride and passion moves me, the way they root and congratulate one another.  it is refreshing.  Not to say I don’t see that from other nations, but thinking of examples I think of Ling Jie praying for Liu Xuan in the balance beam event final, Sydney 2000.  Or Andreea Munteanu screaming in jumping for Catalina Ponor in the floor event final, World Championships 2003.  Both Ling and Munteanu had already competed in the same event final, and rather than being upset for their loss, they thrived on their teammate’s happiness.  That isn’t something I see with the US girls.  I am not saying they are bad people but our systems and societies are different.

Back on topic, do I think these  allegations are true?  Tough to say, I do have a gut feeling  Kexin is underage.  Why didn’t she compete in the 2007 worlds?  When I thought about the Cheng allegations I did ponder the fact that she too was absent from the prior worlds before Athens.  And she did fill the hole of vault/floor for the team.  Kexin does look awfully young, but I think that reasonable evidence.  And she doesn’t appear Kim Gwang Suk young.  Then again, there could be reasons (injuries) that neither competed the World Championships preceding the Olympics.

Now IF there are underage people competing, do I care?  I am still trying to figure that out.  I am opposed to the age rule in place, I think it should be 14 or 15.  But I don’t like cheating.  But with Cheng, I am blinded by how awesome she is, and nothing I hear can taint what I think of her.  And really, same thing with Kexin.  I favor the “wow” factor of gymnastcs, I love new and innovative routines.  She certainly fills that.  Her Yaeger combos are truely magnificent (and the nod to Li Ya, I think the half turn Yaeger should be named after her, OR call it a “Li Ya” combo).  Due to my love for gymnastics and lack of evidence, I am willing to turn my back on the issue.  I my opinion, I think He Kexin should be the bars champion, as her routine is the most spectacular  to emerge in years.


Filed under Uncategorized