Monday, July 28, 2008

Is China playing cheat? Records suggest Chinese gymnasts might be underage!

Recently, there was an uproar with some parents in Singapore over a seemingly "over-aged" primary school athletics contestant. Whether he is in fact "over-aged"or having a growth spurt, who knows? But the tables are turned in this case.

It is hard to find out a person's age, especially if the documents themselves are fake too. *sigh* we live in a fake, fake world.

China named its Olympic women's gymnastics team Friday, and the inclusion of at least two athletes has further raised questions, widespread in the sport, about whether the host nation for the Beijing Games is using underage athletes.

Chinese officials responded immediately, providing copies of passports indicating that both gymnasts in question - He Kexin, a gold-medal favorite in the uneven parallel bars, and Jiang Yuyuan - are 16, the minimum age for Olympic eligibility.

Officials with the International Gymnastics Federation said that questions about He's age had been raised by Chinese news media, USA Gymnastics and fans of the sport, but that the Chinese authorities presented passport information to show that He is 16.

But online records listing Chinese gymnasts and their ages that were posted on official Web sites in China, along with ages given in the official Chinese news media, seem to contradict the passport information, indicating that He and Jiang may be as young as 14.

In Chinese newspaper profiles this year, He was listed as 14, too young for the Beijing Games.

NYTimes found two online records of official registration lists of Chinese gymnasts that list He's birthday as Jan. 1, 1994, which would make her 14. A 2007 national registry of Chinese gymnasts - now blocked in China but viewable through Google cache - shows He's birthday as "1994.1.1."

Another registration list that is unblocked, dated Jan. 27, 2006, regarding an intercity competition in Chengdu, China, also lists He's birthday as Jan. 1, 1994. That date differs by two years from the birth date of Jan. 1, 1992, listed on He's passport, which was issued Feb. 14, 2008.

The other gymnast, Jiang, is listed on her passport - issued March 2, 2006 - as having been born on Nov. 1, 1991, which would make her 16.


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