Hey, China. How’s it going? Good? Good. Little advice here: When you’re trying to cheat at women’s gymnastics by using athletes that can not, in any sense of the word, be called “women”, you would do well not to publicize those athletes’ real ages before the Games. Cheaters.
Yes, Bela Karolyi was right: According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, at least one of China’s female gymnasts was previously reported by Chinese state media as 13 years old:
In its report Nov. 3, Xinhua identified He (Kexin) as one of “10 big new stars” who made a splash at China’s Cities Games. It gave her age as 13 and reported that she beat Yang Yilin on the uneven bars at those games. In the final, “this little girl” pulled off a difficult release move on the bars known as the Li Na, named for another Chinese gymnast, Xinhua said in the report, which appeared on one of its Web sites, www.hb.xinhuanet.com.
The Associated Press found the Xinhua report on the site Thursday morning and saved a copy of the page. Later that afternoon, the Web site was still working but the page was no longer accessible. Sports editors at the state-run news agency would not comment for publication.
Frankly, I’m shocked. You mean to say the country that told a little girl she was too ugly to sing at the Opening Ceremonies might possibly exploit young athletic talent? And lie about it? Never.
By far the most vocal critic of the Chinese — even as Bob Costas tried to change the subject — was former U.S. gymnastics coach Karolyi, who constantly demanded to see verification from the Chinese that their athletes were old enough. Even if his reasons are less than virtuous — Karolyi seemed outraged not at the practice but at the fact that the U.S. couldn’t copy it — the man was right.
Then again, guessing the Chinese were cheating … not exactly an unsafe bet.