Come to think of it…

Chinas Yang Yilin is the latest to be suspected of being underage.

China's Yang Yilin is the latest to be suspected of being underage.


This doesn’t really seem like the face of a 16-year-old, either.

Despite the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to pursue whether half of the Chinese women’s team is underage, the news media seems reluctant to let it go. And hey, Yang Yilin does have a very, very youthful face.

Whether Yang really is 16, or 15, or 14, or whatever, she hangs with the best in the world. She should compete. So should He Kexin. So should Samantha Shapiro and Charlotte Mackie and Aliya Mustafina. Shame on China for breaking the rule — if they are — and shame on the FIG for making a rule that is so easy to break.

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20 Responses to “Come to think of it…”

  1. Colleen Says:

    So should Rebecca Bross, Jordan Weiber, Kamerin Moore…
    I agree, either enforce the rule, or let everyone compete. This is getting ridiculous.

  2. Rebekkah Says:

    We’re basing age on facial features, now?

    I was being mistaken for 16 or younger when I was 25. At the age of 18, I was mistaken for a 13 year old. People still ask if my mommy is home, when I answer the phone.

    This is really pulling at straws.

  3. Katrina Says:

    I agree with the rule. The problem with the China is that the state controls everything. In the US and most of Europe, you have to file the birth certificate with not only local authorities but also state (in the US) authorities. This makes it harder to fake.

    Also with China, and lots of Asian countries, the girls are tiny in general (it doesn’t help that with gymnastics, that the girls need to be small anyway. If I walked past Shawn Johnson on the street and I didn’t know her, I wouldn’t even guess that she was 16) is that they look a lot younger then they are. My aunt is a great case in point. She’s in her late 40s, has a 3 year old (she got married to my uncle later in her life) but she doesn’t look like it. She looks probably in her 30s.

    But China isn’t the only with problems. Britain is allowing a 14 year old Diver to compete. I don’t agree with it either. I have no idea how they got around the rule..

  4. gymfan Says:

    I don’t agree with the rule- if you’re the best, you should be able to compete regardless of age. BUT- if one country must follow the rule, ALL of the countries must follow the rule.

    It’s not fair to the other countries if China is competing with underage gymnasts. And it is indeed a shame that the higher-ups are not pursuing the issue.

  5. nastics Says:

    Great Britain is allowing a 14 year old diver (Tom Daley) to compete at the Olympics because the minimum age limit to compete in diving is 14, therefore, he is age eligible. Unlike some of the Chinese gymnasts.

  6. Angela Says:

    To the poster about regarding the British diver, 14 is the minimum age required to dive at the games. They didn’t have anything to get around.

    I truly believe that these girls are all too young to compete except Cheng Fei (who was probably only 14 or 15 in Athens).

  7. Becki ~GB Says:

    In the end these rumors started in the US and we all know how good the US are at starting rumors. They are underage big deal, they deserve to be there because they are good enough. Tom daley is the 14 year old diver- Britain arent breaking any rules letting him compete.

  8. The Gymnut Says:

    I dont really like the age rule – i think it should be minimum of 15 in the olympic year (thus allowing a select few 14 year olds compete) because a lot og gymnasts peak at this age and 4 years is a very long time to wait in this sport.
    However, sport is governed by rules. And part of being a good sportsman is obeying the rules. I think that any team who do cheat are underserving and are not demostrating good olympic spirit.

  9. Elizabeth Says:

    I totally agree with the age rule. It has been so nice to see more mature girls compete. I feel like they are the better gymnasts because they’re no longer prepubescent and still as good as they are. I hope this makes sense. For instance My high school allowed 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to compete on the cross country team and they were always very good and broke records, but they were never very exciting to watch because they were so little and under developed. Many of them weren’t as good when they reached high school. It was the high schoolers who had been running for awhile and had the most experience that were interesting to watch.

  10. Katrina Says:

    Angela thank you! I didn’t know that… I thought it was 16 for all sports.

  11. Nik Says:

    Personally I think the US has the best team even if they could have picked from their juniors. There is no way Sam Shapiro or Jordan Wieber would have made the current team. The seniors are just too strong.

    I somewhat agree with you Elizabeth. I like seeing the more mature gymnasts… they have MUCH more personality and its more entertaining

  12. Sasha Says:

    …and Mattie Larson looks 11. It’s hard to tell sometimes, especially with gymnasts.

    I personally like the age rule, although I can see it has disadvantages as well. I’ve always liked the poise and polish of older gymnasts. (Who doesn’t think Sacramone is awesome at 20?!?)

    It really is a shame, though, that the FIG won’t do anything about the Chinese allegations. What’s to keep other countries from following the rules if they are so easy to break?

  13. shergymrag Says:

    I didn’t even realize cross country was interesting to watch at all, let alone more interesting when the competitors are older. Running is running, if you ask me.

    “In the end these rumors started in the US and we all know how good the US are at starting rumors. ”

    The rumors actually started in China on Chinese message boards. The “mistakes” also started in China. Newspaper articles and speeches and registration lists giving ages that would make them too young. The US didn’t plant those. If you want to blame somebody, blame China for being inept in this age of internet.

  14. grenma Says:

    The bottom line is that for good or ill FIG has implemented rules for the sport which apply internationally. Those rules negatively impact the host country, which has a history of state secrecy, totalitarianism, extreme nationalism, and political oppression and sees a gold medal in gymnastics as a must-have proposition. Regardless of body types and faces, several documents and discrepancies have been discovered which show that the Chinese are altering dates. All of these alterations benefit the women’s team at the 20087 Games.

    It’s not rocket science.

  15. a Says:

    Miller and Dawes didn’t look 15 and 16 in 92 either

  16. coach chris Says:

    Rules are rules! Everybody most follow them! There is documented evidence of what He’s birth date was and now what it is for the olympics! I can not believe nothing is going to be done!FIG should have no age limit if they can not enforce the rule!

  17. Elizabeth Says:

    Actually Cross Country is very interesting. You should go to a meet. I was just trying to help people better understand my point, but thank you for your sarcasm.

  18. Jenn Says:

    The main reason for the age rule and why they chose 16 (which was after the 96 Olympics by the way) was to open up the sport to the “older” age range. It was believed that if you were 16 or 17, you were too old for the sport. Many gymnasts thought they would never make it to the Olympics because by time it came around again they would be too old. Even young Alicia Sacramone and Mohini Bhardwaj were said to be pushing it…

    I personally loved watching Svetlana Boginskaya, Oksana Chusovitina, Lyudmila Grebenkova, and the other “old timers”. There is no need for young girls to lose hopes of being an Olympian because they were born in the “wrong” year…

    And as a side note – I feel the gold medals should be stripped from the Chinese. Regardless if the rule should have been made…it was…and they are showing a great disrespect to the Olympics and to all countries and people involved

  19. shergymrag Says:

    “…but thank you for your sarcasm.”

    You’re welcome.

  20. Stephen Says:

    It is funny that most of these people who said the Chinese team look underage has probably never seen a 16 years old Chinese girl before. To a Chinese person these girls actually look quite old for their age. I am in my mid-30 and most American still think I am about 14.

    So what really people are trying to do is to bend the age rule to say that you have to “look” like a *typical* American 16 years old in order to compete. I have no problem with this, except that it should be apply to all sports. i.e. Michael Phelps should not be allowed to compete since his body surely isn’t typical for a 23 years old American kid, and the whole US basketball team should be thrown out because their heights are not typical for American.

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