Better late than never?

He Kexin, Nastia Liukin and Yang Yilin on the medal stand in Beijing.

He Kexin, Nastia Liukin and Yang Yilin on the medal stand in Beijing.

The International Olympic Committee has more or less ordered the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) to take a closer look at He Kexin’s age, according to this article from the UK Telegraph.

Chinese coaches registered He as 16 years old. But an official inquiry has been launched after it was claimed she may only be 14 and, therefore, ineligible to compete in the games.

She could be stripped of her medals if the allegations are proven.

The investigation was triggered after US computer expert Mike Walker contacted the International Olympic Committee claiming to have uncovered Chinese government documents proving the gymnast was underage. Gymnasts must be 16 to compete.

What a mess. If it’s shown that He is indeed underage, it’s a huge shame on China’s governing body for sport. It’s certainly not the team’s fault, nor He’s herself. If she knew what was going on, which seems unlikely, she probably had no power to say, ‘Hey, this isn’t right. I shouldn’t compete.’

Given that He only competed on bars in team finals, where the Chinese could have used another gymnast — Xiao Sha, for example, or Pang Panpan or even He Ning or Zhang Nan — and likely still won the team competition.

(via Gymnastics Coaching, Live.Breathe.Love.Gymnastics)

11 Responses to “Better late than never?”

  1. mr solis Says:

    Which is a shame is that the investigation starts just after He Kexin defeated Nastia fairly (where’s the controversy, the code describes the tie break procedure!! And on top of that, it was Yang Yilin who get robbed!) and just after Us team doesn’t get the gold. Nobody’s investigating the small japanese girl because she doesn’t win anything. What a pity and a sore losers

    Abolish this stupid rule one and far all, and thanks China for cheating and show the whole world the excellence of these athletes, regardless of their age.

  2. Sandy Says:

    My understanding from media articles online is that the IOC is just asking China to supply additional documents to verify the gymnasts ages (no official investigation in other words). Well, if China supplied the passports I’m sure they can supply “correct” birth certificates. That being said I feel sorry for the Chinese gymnasts because if they are underage they had no choice but to go along with the deception. They are really good regardless. I hope this mess ends soon.

  3. shergymrag Says:

    The small Japanese girl doesn’t have articles around claiming she’s underaged or Japanese fans lamenting that she’s too young.

  4. BM Says:

    I could make a web page right now that shows the small Japanese girl’s age to be 13. I bet people won’t start to come after her and use my fake web page as evidence… sore losers….

  5. Marcus Says:

    here’s a national registry of gymnasts from 2005

    http://cache.baidu.com/c?m=9d78d513d9d431dc4f9ce3690c66c0166d43f1682ba1d2020ed68448e267504a4172a4fb792d4a4295876b6672b25419afb52172404262eadb8e9f4aaaeecf6c388850652c01d21a4c8458b2930064dc60c70fe9ad1be0a7f235d5f58380824353bd195b3b&p=907ec81bcd9212a059bd9b7e11&user=baidu

    search the page for “何可欣” (He Kexin in Chinese)

    she’s number 799

    on that page you’ll also see:

    497 is Sui Lu (1993-4-1) under 眭璐
    551 is Yang Yilin (1993-8-26) under 杨伊琳

    interesting…

  6. Marcus Says:

    Sui Lu was an alternate to the team, btw

  7. mrsolis Says:

    “The small Japanese girl doesn’t have articles around claiming she’s underaged”

    shergymrag, that was precisely my point! Nobody is interested in people that can’t win gold medals. Shame that only the champions get investigated and just before the gold medal, soooooo fishy…

    The image of sore losers that some people in US is giving to the gymnastics world amazes me.

  8. Marcus Says:

    This discussion has been going on since LAST YEAR, it’s NOT just because she won the gold medal, people have been speculating since all of a sudden she was eligible for the Doha World Cup after being introduced as a 13 year old on Chinese television and in the news paper after she beat Yang Yilin on bars at the Intercity Games.

  9. Hatsumomo Says:

    Not only has the speculation been going on for a very long time as Marcus says, Japan’s registry system from the day a child is born makes it very hard to change an age for sport purposes. IIRC, a baby has put into the family registry within a certain time frame after birth and the country doesn’t have the type of system where a coach or somebody can waltz in and go, “Ooh, mistake. She was actually born in 1992, not 1993.” So Koko Tsurumi (the small one I assume you’re talking about) is just small due to genetics and not completing her growth spurt just yet.

    Meanwhile, Communist countries have a time-honored tradition of forging passports and faking ages. But nobody was going to go up against The Great Soviet Machine even if they had proof (and it wasn’t until years later when the gymnasts admitted that they were actually younger than their stated ages), nobody had this kind of proof against Romania until years later when somebody got a hold of birth certificates and gymnasts themselves admitted it, and the DPRK got stupid with Kim Gwang Suk. Plus, the technology we have now was not available back then. Message boards, Youtube, Google, Baidu, Internet caches, etc.

    Yang Yun herself said, on Chinese television, that she was 14 in Sydney which tells us, if nothing else, that China does fake ages to gain some sort of advantage, so these allegations aren’t totally unfounded.

    The “sore losers and sour grapes” argument is just a convenient and illogical strawman.

  10. mrsolis Says:

    As I said, the discussion started SINCE He Kexin was seen as a major contender for the gold when her performance in DOHA dazzled everybody. There has been no discussion on Deng Linlin since she wasn’t potential medallist, but once she made the team and could help the chinese team win, she gets questioned. Soooooooooooooooooooo fishy…

    And the IOC investigation just started AFTER the gold. That was the news on this article, remember: “Better late than never?”.

    Sore losers argument is a huge reality. Learn something from YAng Yilin, who is proud of her bronzes when she has been robbed the gold either on AA and UB.

  11. Marcus Says:

    She was not robbed of gold in the AA, only UB

    He Kexin should have been the bronze medalist, with Yang and Nastia going 1-2, IMO

    if you want to read more on it, this website is basically dedicated to the Chinese age issue (at least for now)

    http://strydehax.blogspot.com/

    I wouldn’t be pissed if China won and their team was filled with age eligible athletes, but it wasn’t. I was thrilled when China won in 2006, they were the best team and hit 12 for 12 when it mattered most and they were all age eligible and there was no paperwork to prove otherwise so there was no need for speculation. It’s unfair for them to use underage athletes when we could have, too. Shapiro could have been the third bars specialist, and Bross could have helped on vault, beam, and floor.

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