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China is golden in gymnastics

Dongguan Times
August 14, 2008

China claimed four more gold medals yesterday, and most papers chose to feature the women's gymnasts, who won the country its first gold in the women's team event yesterday by beating out the US and Romania.

There's a large photo of the team on the medals stand on the front page of the Dongguan Times, underneath the breezy headline, "Girls make history" (小丫头开创大历史).

The team has been dogged by questions about the age of its members; Olympic gymnasts are supposed to be 16 by the end of the year, and while the girls are all eligible according to the birthdate found in their passports, Chinese media stories prior to this year imply that some of them might be considerably younger. This Xinhua report from last December gives an age of 13 for He Kexin (third from right). CDT has more.

Guangming Daily
August 14, 2008

At the bottom of the page is a "heroes list." Unlike most media outlets, which rank the top participating countries according to the gold medals they've won, Dongguan Times lists the events China won the previous day. Other gold medals came in men's 3m synchronized springboard, women's 25m pistol, and women's 69kg weightlifting, where 2004 gold medalist Liu Chunhong broke several world records to win the title for China.

The front page of today's Guangming Daily is also dominated by Olympics-related news. The gymnastics team's victory is reported in a small story at the bottom of the page, but the main article is #9 in a series of feature stories on various Olympics-related topics. Today's piece revolves around the smiles of the Olympic volunteers.

The paper also reports on the movements of CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin, who visited an Olympic exhibition of Thangka paintings portraying scenes from the Tibetan epic "King Gesar" yesterday. Jia also visited the Olympic Fine Art 2008 exhibition.

Who will win China's next gold medal? Where will Jia Qinglin go today? Stay tuned.

There are currently 16 Comments for China is golden in gymnastics.

Comments on China is golden in gymnastics

Once again the American media fails to get a medal at an Olympic press conference in Beijing. Who is the idiot that asked He Kexin about memories from her 15th birthday party?
Where is the Wall Street Journal reporter who opened his laptop during the Great Firewall press conference? He could have pulled a similar stunt again by showing everybody in the room that Xinhua website with He Kexin's age on it.
If only I could receive 50 cents for every brilliant idea I've posted on the Internet, but this one is so simple even a 14 year old would have thought of it.

I heard there are two He Kexin's, one from Hubei and one from Beijing, with different ages. Not sure about the details though.

The Chinese women's gymnastics team really was fantastic (for her part, He Kexin is amazing on the uneven bars), so it's too bad that they seem to have broken the rules. Obviously the Ministry of Truth is doing a poor job of cleaning up those incriminating stories from years past.

The May 23, 2008 Google cache story from China Daily says gymnast He Kexin is a native of Hubei. Of course it also says she is 14 years old. If you click the China Daily link on He Kexin's Wikipedia page then she magically becomes 16.

Google Uneven-bars queen the new star in town:

Google's August 4, 2008 cache snapshot:

As Chen Qigang would say in French, "Vive la différence!"

"China claimed four more gold medals yesterday, and most papers chose to feature the women's gymnasts, who won the country its first team gold yesterday by beating out the US and Romania."

Isn't a little more clarity needed here? The Chinese men's gymnastics team won gold on the 12th link. Is this China's first women's gymnastics team gold?

Isn't it a bit horrible to question those girls like that?
It's wrong if they've broken the rules, but not really the girls fault. Kind of missing the point of being all protective and concerned about children rights.

You are correct, chriswaugh_bj. Something got lost in the editing. The Chinese men won at Sydney in 2000 as well.

There is not one grain in a handful of sand's chance that all those Chinese girls are 16.

But I think Rachel's right: it's not the girls' fault. They were taken from their families when they were very young and have been state property ever since. They have no control over events and are likely to have been re-educated on the year of their births.

That said, it is a serious breach of sporting ethics by any moral standard and journalists should certainly follow that up. It is the one clear example of cheating that has surfaced thus far, and one that reflects poorly on the hosts' win at all costs policy.

I get the feeling that China believes this is fine as long as it can't be proven, therefore preventing a loss of face. And the worst part is, they've got away with it.

As a former gymnast who was drafted, almost Chinese style, into a gym club at the age of 6, I can say that it is not possible to compete at a world standard without starting rigorous training at a really early age, ideally 4 or 5.

In light of this, the age restriction itself seems a little silly to me. Especially for female gymnasts who pass their prime at puberty.

That is of course a different question from lying about ages and breaking clear Olympic rules.

While I think that it is possible for the age of those Chinese gymnasts could've be faked, it is not unusual that Chinese women to look much younger than their age. I know a Chinese woman who was 24, weights 83 lbs, about 4'10" and is not anorexic. Many people would probably think that she is 16. Given how the diets of these Chinese gymnasts' diets are severely controlled, they probably don't puberatize later compared to American gymnasts.


Well now,...oops, wait a minute; I just read the brand new Danwei comment posting policy.

Never mind!

"That said, it is a serious breach of sporting ethics by any moral standard and journalists should certainly follow that up. It is the one clear example of cheating that has surfaced thus far, and one that reflects poorly on the hosts' win at all costs policy."---Stuart

Jouralists are going to do nothing. Corporations and the IOC will do nothing because they are all still making money and/or partying it up at the bars and forgetting about their ethical responsibilities. Thw worst part is not that they are getting away with it but that children are going to learn that cheaters really do win. There is no doubt that those gymnasts were better than team U.S.A. on that day and they deserved to win if they had follow the specific rule regarding age but it seems clear and the evidence points to the contrary.
Forget about gymnastics. Forget about archery and air rifle which are arguably not sports that require a physically fit person in which drugs would benefit their performance. Please someone test these swimmers though. I have suspicions---and I am not the only one---about the hosts kicking ass in the pool.

There's a post at Huffington Post mentioning the girls' ages today which includes reference to a Xinhua piece that I've not yet seen reference to yet other than in passing.

I feel for the girls -- at 13, 14 they're in theior prime for those amazing moves (the oft-questioned He is especially a joy to watch!), and in many ways it's not their fault for their teams, etc. to be outright breaking the rules (doubt it was the girls' idea), but it doesn't mean that they should have competed and that the General Administration of Sports shouldn't be questioned.

There's a "He Kexin" listed in the 2008 roster of new students accepted at the Hubei No. 2 Teachers College, listed with a specialty in Accounting. Check out no. 08330760110724: link

MSChen: That's 何柯欣. The gymnast is 何可欣.

i dont want to sound like a racist. but i think "other races" always think east asian girls/women look much younger than actual age. im 24, short and skinny. i went to a movie with two of my girl friends who are about the same size as me. we were asked to show ids before buying the tickets because they suspected that we are all under 14. and no matter what we explained, we ended up leaving the movie theater because none of us had ids with us.

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