Friday, August 22, 2008

Chinese Gymnast underage?

OK here is the evidence
first Billy Pan says probably*. So too does the blogger stryde hax who alerted the media**.
牛博 counters with the alternate possibility - translated here that the local authorities have been falsifying her age to make her look younger. Why? Well the documents the blogger found were related to competitions that were a proving ground for the 2012 Olympics, that mean that she needed to be 13-15. for the purposes of trading her skills between various interest groups it was more valuable for her to be 13 (which would make her 14 now). Then as suggested here the chinese media is collectively guilty of poor reporting and exaggerating her youth.

So where does the balance of the evidence lie?
First, obviously someone is lying and doing it on purpose. Either it is the government with their passports or the Chinese sports association on their files. The latter is a more simple theory so has the advantage on those grounds - however the girl does indeed look young (and I mean looks young to experts).

I wonder if there is a reason why her birth day (as opposed to year) doesn't also vary on these documents - I think 31/12/92 is the perfect age for her to compete and still be as young as possible and any day around there might have made sense as a potential fake date - then again its likely her family and other corrupt people would not have fully understood that.

But in the Sydney Olympics Yang's passport said she was born on December 24, 1984 and turning 16 in the year of the Games, making her eligible but she later confessed in a television interview that she was only 14 at the time of the competition and that she and her coaches had lied about her age. Also as Huffington post shows, there has been some sort of effort to "correct" the ages on online articles - smelling rather like a cover-up.

In the end I'm not sure - I think I'm leaning on the side that she is 14, but regardless it deserve some serious investigation. The bottom line is that if the Olympics are going to have rules they need to be enforced, otherwise you just penalize those that obey the rules.***

* in Chinese but the pictures say everything
** well OK the NYT already knew - but they obviously didn't think it was a interesting story
** being younger is an advantage - Nadia Comăneci, the girl who got perfect score in the Montreal Olympics, was 14. She would not have been able to compete under current rules and someone with a much lower score would have won. It is to do with your size and the obvious damage puberty does to womens ability to do gymnastics


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