see I'm not the only one who is questioning this girl's age.
"So was half the Chinese team too young to compete? We may never know. Some documents and media reports suggested that He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Yang may have been two years under the minimum age of 16.
Gymnastics officials really should have sorted this out earlier.
It would have avoided sour grape comments like those from Karolyi, who said one of the Chinese girls was missing a tooth, hinting that she might be too young."
I remember watching the Olympics with my family as a kid and being told about how in the USSR children were recruited as little chidren in elementary school ... how the government would take them from their families and force them to be whatever the government wanted them to be - only being able to see their families as an award for winning (at the time, it sounded like a great idea) ... there was no minimum age at that time - so you would see girls who were 12, 13, 14 yrs old at the olympics (I think Nadia was 14yrs when she got that perfect score).
I remember hearing from my gym teacher how some of the Eastern Bloc countries gave their girls hormone supressants to prevent them from entiring puberty to keep their center of gravity in that 'little girl' area - a bit higher up (a woman's COG is at the hip, a girls is in the core). That was why you would see these 18 yr olds with bodies of 14 yr old boys ... the change in the COG is also why you don't/rarely see gymnists at the Olympics over the age of 19.
Last night during the competition one of the commentators mentioned that one of the Chinese girls wanted to leave the program to go home to her family and just lead a normal life and was told 'no' .... that China will grab these girls sometimes shortly after they start pre-school and put them into the gymnastic programs -- before they get on anyone's radar.
This makes a system ripe for rule-bending. The girls have to be 16yrs old during the year of the Olympics - so sometime during 2008, making them at least 15 now - but since these girls are whisked away when they are so young, who keeps an eye on their records to make sure that a few years don't get added on to make them older than they really are?
In America most girls don't begin until they are well established in the school systems where birth records/immunization forms etc set up a very visible paper trail. Is there a place in America where there aren't birth records? immunization records? I don't think so .... even if you Home Schooled your child, there is enough of a paper trail to prove your child's true age or at least one that would get you within a few months.
They have to develope a better way to determine a person's age...there has to be some developmental milestones which seem to happen at the same time - the width of the hips, the development of teeth, something in the blood levels (be it in the cells or the hormonal levels) ... there has to be some sort of guidelines other than forgable certificates.