Changing China

Giant on the move

Too much, too young for Olympic gymnasts?

August 21, 2008

Cheng FeiThe more I watch the women’s gymnastics competitions the more I’m torn between amazement at the athleticism on display and horror at what can seem at times like cruel and unusual punishment.

Most elite athletes put themselves through gruelling training regimes — not to mention the mental toll that the stress of competition must take — but few are quite so young as the women’s gymnasts

The gymnastics federation states that competitors must turn 16 in an Olympic year but even assuming that rule has been steadfastly adhered to it still means they are putting their bodies through intensive training by 10 or 12.

Most of the gymnasts I’ve spoken to say they’re having a great time and just being in the competition and giving their best is what matters.

Nadia Comaneci, who wowed the world with a perfect 10 at the 1976 Games when she was just 14, said that she came through the world of high-stress competition none the worse for wear. But she had five gold medals to her name.

When I saw China’s Cheng Fei, who is 20, face reporters with eyes puffy from crying after her gold medal hopes were ruined by split-second mistakes in her performance, I was less sure the gymnasts out there were having the time of their lives.

For every medal winner there is another gymnast crumpled in tears in her coach’s arms.

PHOTO: Cheng Fei of China competes in the gymnastics women’s beam final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 19, 2008. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi


Not only one media was found saying He was 13 in the year 2007 during the City Sport Meeting. Even People’s Daily, the most impressive newspaper in China said that. 007-11/03/119403988885913935497752116555 .pdf

is the address of PDF format of that article from the official website of People’s Daily

Maybe a NMR is needed to get the truth.

Posted by Shicheng Du | Report as abusive

If He is proven to be underage, it will be one of the biggest scandals at this Olympics. It would mean that the Chinese government has been willing to issue false official documents to allow ineligible athletes to compete, which is cheating. And this is not the first time they have done it.

But again, this investigation will soon become futile. There is just no way that past news reports (which have almost all been removed, interestingly) can be used as evidence against official documentation (gymnasts’ passports, etc) issued by the Chinese government. Though everybody knows the former is far more reliable. Sad, and horrible for all other gymnasts who competed fairly.

Posted by Naomi | Report as abusive

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