Chinese gymnasts and the tooth fairy

So, controversy builds over whether those little Chinese girls who have been sweeping up the gymnastic medals are at least 16 years old, as the rules require. The American coach pointed out that one of them has a tooth missing, looking as if she is still shedding her baby teeth.

While the Chinese team celebrated, Martha Karolyi, the U.S. national team coordinator, continued to question the ages of some of China’s gymnasts. Concerns over eligibility on the six-member team surfaced before the Olympics and have continued all week.

“One of the girls has a missing tooth,” Karolyi said, suggesting that the gymnast was so young that she lost a baby tooth and had yet to have a permanent one emerge.

The grin of Deng Linlin, a Chinese gymnast who is listed as 16, indeed revealed a wide gap. To be eligible for the Olympics, gymnasts must turn 16 this year. “I have no proof, so I can’t make an affirmation,” Karolyi said.

China’s coach, Lu Shanzhen, bristled when the age issue arose again on the day his gymnasts had upset the Americans, the reigning world champions. He would not explain Deng’s missing tooth. . . .

Half of the team – He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Jiang Yuyuan – is under age if online sports registration lists in China are correct. The international gymnastics federation, however, said those gymnasts were eligible and that the ages on their passports were correct.

So there is documentary evidence that they are older? I do admit that the Chinese girls are amazing gymnasts. But judge for yourself from this picture:

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • JennaT

    While I agree that these girls are amazing gymnasts, my thought while watching this little girl in particular was that she is remarkably similar in physical characteristics, mannerisms, and facial expressions to my not-yet- eleven year old daughter. I think there is little left to dispute over whether these girls are old enough or not. My question is, will anything (and can anything) be done about it! Or will the world turn a blind eye as it does so many other of China’s deceptions.

  • JennaT

    While I agree that these girls are amazing gymnasts, my thought while watching this little girl in particular was that she is remarkably similar in physical characteristics, mannerisms, and facial expressions to my not-yet- eleven year old daughter. I think there is little left to dispute over whether these girls are old enough or not. My question is, will anything (and can anything) be done about it! Or will the world turn a blind eye as it does so many other of China’s deceptions.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    She’s a thievin’ pirate’s little maiden.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    She’s a thievin’ pirate’s little maiden.

  • Anon

    They definitely deserve gold in the junior olympics, but not in the IOC olympics.

    Not that these little girls have a choice in that totalitarian empire.

  • Anon

    They definitely deserve gold in the junior olympics, but not in the IOC olympics.

    Not that these little girls have a choice in that totalitarian empire.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    John 8:44 (NASB)
    44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

    The Bible makes it crystal clear that lying is morally wrong. However, it is not surprising that a godless government like China would be dishonest. What is surprising is that none of the other countries will call them on this.

    Even the average pagan knows that lying is wrong (at the least whenever someone lies to him.)

    Ok, it’s just the Olympic games and a gold medal. But what if the Chinese government was lying about other things–Human rights violations, and persecution of Christians? Why are the nations silent?

    Will anyone stand for truth anymore? At what point are we sinning because we look the other way rather than obey God and help the innocent?

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    John 8:44 (NASB)
    44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

    The Bible makes it crystal clear that lying is morally wrong. However, it is not surprising that a godless government like China would be dishonest. What is surprising is that none of the other countries will call them on this.

    Even the average pagan knows that lying is wrong (at the least whenever someone lies to him.)

    Ok, it’s just the Olympic games and a gold medal. But what if the Chinese government was lying about other things–Human rights violations, and persecution of Christians? Why are the nations silent?

    Will anyone stand for truth anymore? At what point are we sinning because we look the other way rather than obey God and help the innocent?

  • Carl Vehse

    If they still are wearing these then the IOC will start to get suspicious.

  • Carl Vehse

    If they still are wearing these then the IOC will start to get suspicious.

  • Don S

    The International Gymnastics Federation said that the ages on their passports are correct? How would they know that exactly? They checked the girls’ Chinese government-issued birth certificates?

  • Don S

    The International Gymnastics Federation said that the ages on their passports are correct? How would they know that exactly? They checked the girls’ Chinese government-issued birth certificates?

  • Carl Vehse

    “They checked the girls’ Chinese government-issued birth certificates?

    Yeah, that’s the ticket – Chinese-issued birth certificates. What better proof?

    There are even doubt about the authenticity of the birth certification posted for one of our presidential candidates.

  • Carl Vehse

    “They checked the girls’ Chinese government-issued birth certificates?

    Yeah, that’s the ticket – Chinese-issued birth certificates. What better proof?

    There are even doubt about the authenticity of the birth certification posted for one of our presidential candidates.

  • An AZ Lutheran

    You’re right, Carl.
    J Sidney McCain III was born not in the US, but in the Canal Zone, which, to this strict constructionist’s way of thinking, makes him ineligible to be president.

  • An AZ Lutheran

    You’re right, Carl.
    J Sidney McCain III was born not in the US, but in the Canal Zone, which, to this strict constructionist’s way of thinking, makes him ineligible to be president.

  • Dan McNair

    That particular tooth happens to be the most common congenitally missing tooth in the mouth, so this picture doesn’t really offer much evidence either way on the issue of whether she is younger than 16.

  • Dan McNair

    That particular tooth happens to be the most common congenitally missing tooth in the mouth, so this picture doesn’t really offer much evidence either way on the issue of whether she is younger than 16.

  • Don S

    AZ Lutheran — Carl said “There are even doubts about the authenticity of the birth certification posted for one of our presidential candidates”. You said he was right, and then cited McCain. What doubts are there about his birth certification? There is no question he was born in the Canal Zone, and he has been quite clear about that.

    So, clearly, his birth has been properly certified. Now, as to your “strict constructionist” views, what are they based on? The Constitution says only “natural born citizens” are elibible for the presidency. McCain was born to two U.S. citizens, on a U.S. military base in the Canal Zone. U.S. military bases and embassies, wherever located, are considered to be U.S. territory. So, how, exactly, is he not a “natural born citizen”, to your “strict constructionist” way of thinking?

  • Don S

    AZ Lutheran — Carl said “There are even doubts about the authenticity of the birth certification posted for one of our presidential candidates”. You said he was right, and then cited McCain. What doubts are there about his birth certification? There is no question he was born in the Canal Zone, and he has been quite clear about that.

    So, clearly, his birth has been properly certified. Now, as to your “strict constructionist” views, what are they based on? The Constitution says only “natural born citizens” are elibible for the presidency. McCain was born to two U.S. citizens, on a U.S. military base in the Canal Zone. U.S. military bases and embassies, wherever located, are considered to be U.S. territory. So, how, exactly, is he not a “natural born citizen”, to your “strict constructionist” way of thinking?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@9), please, this is a place for speculation, not facts!

    Don (@10), I’m no constitutional expert, but perhaps neither are you. I’ll quote Wikipedia on the matter:

    Current State Department policy reads: “Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic or consular facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth.”

    The more applicable law, again from Wikipedia, is:

    Although the Panama Canal Zone was not considered to be part of the United States, federal law states that “Any person born in the Canal Zone on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this chapter, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States”. The law that conferred this status took effect on August 4, 1937, one year after John McCain was born — albeit with retrospective effect, resulting in McCain being declared a U.S. citizen from birth.

    Don’t suppose you’ll turn those arguing skills to defend Obama from Carl’s accusation? Just let that one stand?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@9), please, this is a place for speculation, not facts!

    Don (@10), I’m no constitutional expert, but perhaps neither are you. I’ll quote Wikipedia on the matter:

    Current State Department policy reads: “Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic or consular facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth.”

    The more applicable law, again from Wikipedia, is:

    Although the Panama Canal Zone was not considered to be part of the United States, federal law states that “Any person born in the Canal Zone on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this chapter, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States”. The law that conferred this status took effect on August 4, 1937, one year after John McCain was born — albeit with retrospective effect, resulting in McCain being declared a U.S. citizen from birth.

    Don’t suppose you’ll turn those arguing skills to defend Obama from Carl’s accusation? Just let that one stand?

  • WebMonk

    From the comments, I take it there is some sort of dispute about Obama’s birth certificate? I must be missing out on some of the junk emails that float around; I haven’t heard of that one!

    Back on topic, I can’t imagine any way to concretely determine the age of the Chinese gymnasts. I’ve read stories of the girls being registered at previous competitions with ages that would have them being younger than 16. However, if China says those were mistakes and produces birth certificates showing valid ages for the gymnasts, I can’t see any way that would definitively prove things one way or another.

    I tend not to trust China, but I can also see this as being a valid snafu. I’m all for holding a good investigation, but until one is done, let the girls have their medals.

    Having taught a karate club in a gymnastics center for several years, there were quite a few times that I would see girls that looked 13 or 14 driving cars on their own. Girls who develop their bodies at normal ages tend to quit gymnastics (it gets too hard with their changing physiology), and the heavy exercise tends to keep their bodies smaller too. Add on the fact that it is beneficial for female gymnasts to be short and small, and the final result is that most top female gymnasts look pretty young for their age. If here anyone attends college gymnastics competitions, you’ll agree that most of the girls look like they’re still 16 or 17.

    That said, these Chinese gymnasts do look a bit too young even WITH all that taken into account. While I’ve seen 16 or 17 yr old gymnast girls looking 12 or 13, these girls look 10 or 11.

    But, the stretch to believe that they really are 16 (barely) is relatively small. It’s a stretch, but not a particularly big one.

  • WebMonk

    From the comments, I take it there is some sort of dispute about Obama’s birth certificate? I must be missing out on some of the junk emails that float around; I haven’t heard of that one!

    Back on topic, I can’t imagine any way to concretely determine the age of the Chinese gymnasts. I’ve read stories of the girls being registered at previous competitions with ages that would have them being younger than 16. However, if China says those were mistakes and produces birth certificates showing valid ages for the gymnasts, I can’t see any way that would definitively prove things one way or another.

    I tend not to trust China, but I can also see this as being a valid snafu. I’m all for holding a good investigation, but until one is done, let the girls have their medals.

    Having taught a karate club in a gymnastics center for several years, there were quite a few times that I would see girls that looked 13 or 14 driving cars on their own. Girls who develop their bodies at normal ages tend to quit gymnastics (it gets too hard with their changing physiology), and the heavy exercise tends to keep their bodies smaller too. Add on the fact that it is beneficial for female gymnasts to be short and small, and the final result is that most top female gymnasts look pretty young for their age. If here anyone attends college gymnastics competitions, you’ll agree that most of the girls look like they’re still 16 or 17.

    That said, these Chinese gymnasts do look a bit too young even WITH all that taken into account. While I’ve seen 16 or 17 yr old gymnast girls looking 12 or 13, these girls look 10 or 11.

    But, the stretch to believe that they really are 16 (barely) is relatively small. It’s a stretch, but not a particularly big one.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 11 — oh, of course. Wikipedia. Case closed. So I guess if McCain had been born there in 1938 instead of 1936 he couldn’t serve as president?

    My bad in my previous post was that I bothered to argue the geography issue at all. It is a red herring. Actually, as early as 1790 “natural born citizen” was simply defined as the child of two American citizens, wherever born. This is the operative definition which is accepted today by most. The place of birth is irrelevant. Frankly, it would make no sense for my child to be ineligible for the presidency because he/she was born while we were vacationing in Mexico, while the child of Mexican citizens born here in the territorial U.S. while they were on vacation would be eligible to be president. It was always an arcane and stupid argument, just as is the similar argument being made against Obama.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 11 — oh, of course. Wikipedia. Case closed. So I guess if McCain had been born there in 1938 instead of 1936 he couldn’t serve as president?

    My bad in my previous post was that I bothered to argue the geography issue at all. It is a red herring. Actually, as early as 1790 “natural born citizen” was simply defined as the child of two American citizens, wherever born. This is the operative definition which is accepted today by most. The place of birth is irrelevant. Frankly, it would make no sense for my child to be ineligible for the presidency because he/she was born while we were vacationing in Mexico, while the child of Mexican citizens born here in the territorial U.S. while they were on vacation would be eligible to be president. It was always an arcane and stupid argument, just as is the similar argument being made against Obama.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@13), you sniff at the Wikipedia article, without apparently having noted the sources it cited. Do you have issues with the facts or sources presented in the article? Or are you a priori dismissing all Wikipedia quotes, regardless of what they cite? Also, your question about 1938 makes no sense.

    Regardless, you are correct that geography is not an issue when a child is born to two citizens — thanks for pointing that out. And for standing up for Obama in this case.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@13), you sniff at the Wikipedia article, without apparently having noted the sources it cited. Do you have issues with the facts or sources presented in the article? Or are you a priori dismissing all Wikipedia quotes, regardless of what they cite? Also, your question about 1938 makes no sense.

    Regardless, you are correct that geography is not an issue when a child is born to two citizens — thanks for pointing that out. And for standing up for Obama in this case.

  • PHW

    China cheats at everything else, why not the Olympics. After all, they put lead paint on toys sent to the US, execute their citizenry for minor crimes, why not put prepubescent girls on their Olympic teams? I find it interesting that one of the girls just ‘happened’ to turn 16 on Jan 1 this year.

  • PHW

    China cheats at everything else, why not the Olympics. After all, they put lead paint on toys sent to the US, execute their citizenry for minor crimes, why not put prepubescent girls on their Olympic teams? I find it interesting that one of the girls just ‘happened’ to turn 16 on Jan 1 this year.

  • Joe

    I tried to link to it a few times today and so far I have not even gotten the your comment is awaiting moderation message, but there is a link on Drudge to an AP article regarding all of this. Nine months ago a state run newspaper reported that one of the 16 olds on the Chinese team was 13; so unless she is able to age three years in 9 months I think there is pretty credible grounds for an investigation.

  • Joe

    I tried to link to it a few times today and so far I have not even gotten the your comment is awaiting moderation message, but there is a link on Drudge to an AP article regarding all of this. Nine months ago a state run newspaper reported that one of the 16 olds on the Chinese team was 13; so unless she is able to age three years in 9 months I think there is pretty credible grounds for an investigation.

  • Lisa

    I believe the girls are under age 16, but it is just a gut feeling I have. I wouldn’t put any stock in the fact that it appears that the girls are loosing teeth. I have a 17 year old daughter that has to have 4 baby teeth removed in two weeks.

  • Lisa

    I believe the girls are under age 16, but it is just a gut feeling I have. I wouldn’t put any stock in the fact that it appears that the girls are loosing teeth. I have a 17 year old daughter that has to have 4 baby teeth removed in two weeks.

  • The Jones

    China is concerned about one thing. The greatness of China. They don’t care if they have to roundup and bus homeless people out of Beijing, steal American technologies to utilize in Chinese business and government enterprises, lie about the government connections to banks and businesses to increase revenue, or pretend that a cute girl is singing the Hymn of the Motherland when actually, another girl (who won a national competition but who is not quite cute enough) is singing it.

    So, it does not surprise me one bit that China would parade little 12 year old girls out on the gymnastics floor and lie saying they are 16, when the prestige and world standing of China are at stake in this historic and possibly world changing Olympics are going on. Now, I know gymnastics stunts people’s growth. I ran X Country in High school, and I watched it stunt some of my teammates growth, but when authorities like Béla Károlyi call the Chinese bluff straight up on NBC, I’ll trust him. He knows what he’s talking about.

  • The Jones

    China is concerned about one thing. The greatness of China. They don’t care if they have to roundup and bus homeless people out of Beijing, steal American technologies to utilize in Chinese business and government enterprises, lie about the government connections to banks and businesses to increase revenue, or pretend that a cute girl is singing the Hymn of the Motherland when actually, another girl (who won a national competition but who is not quite cute enough) is singing it.

    So, it does not surprise me one bit that China would parade little 12 year old girls out on the gymnastics floor and lie saying they are 16, when the prestige and world standing of China are at stake in this historic and possibly world changing Olympics are going on. Now, I know gymnastics stunts people’s growth. I ran X Country in High school, and I watched it stunt some of my teammates growth, but when authorities like Béla Károlyi call the Chinese bluff straight up on NBC, I’ll trust him. He knows what he’s talking about.

  • Anon

    We do know that a Bara(c)k Hussein Obama was born in Kenya in I think it was 1961, to his Kenyan father and American mother, one of his junior wives. We don’t have any other record of the current Democrat front-runner’s birth.

  • Anon

    We do know that a Bara(c)k Hussein Obama was born in Kenya in I think it was 1961, to his Kenyan father and American mother, one of his junior wives. We don’t have any other record of the current Democrat front-runner’s birth.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Troll (@19), you’re spreading a lie, and you really should be ashamed of yourself. If you bothered to Google for his birth certificate, you would find it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Troll (@19), you’re spreading a lie, and you really should be ashamed of yourself. If you bothered to Google for his birth certificate, you would find it.

  • o.O

    They are cheats.
    I have thought that all along throughout these olympics.
    Heck they even started at the opening ceremony.
    Deceiving the public with a falsified ceremony, with miming and pre recorded or Computer Generated fireworks.

    Lets hope the London games are a lot better (I am in no doubt that they will be)

    All for the better China…?? PPPppfftttt not if it means lying and cheating to get you there.
    I can’t stand it.

  • o.O

    They are cheats.
    I have thought that all along throughout these olympics.
    Heck they even started at the opening ceremony.
    Deceiving the public with a falsified ceremony, with miming and pre recorded or Computer Generated fireworks.

    Lets hope the London games are a lot better (I am in no doubt that they will be)

    All for the better China…?? PPPppfftttt not if it means lying and cheating to get you there.
    I can’t stand it.

  • http://Google Michelle

    why are you two(Todd & Anon) using this as your opportunity for your own debate for presidential election? This conversation is about underage Chinese gymnast, and how the Chinese federation is deceiving every other athlete that are following and respecting the rules. I mean if they are going to allow athletes to cheat by lying about their ages, quit testing for doping. One good cheat deserves another.

  • http://Google Michelle

    why are you two(Todd & Anon) using this as your opportunity for your own debate for presidential election? This conversation is about underage Chinese gymnast, and how the Chinese federation is deceiving every other athlete that are following and respecting the rules. I mean if they are going to allow athletes to cheat by lying about their ages, quit testing for doping. One good cheat deserves another.

  • Siegrid

    JennaT,

    Funny how the gymnast in the picture, Deng Linlin, who looks younger than your 11 year old, really is 16 without questioning.
    There have never been doubts about this gymnast. She has been interviewed in 2003 in a documentary about gymnasts training for the Olympics 2008. She said she was 11 back then. That’s five years ago so that makes her 16 today.

    You should see pictures of Kui Yuanyuan and Bi Wenjing these days. They are both 27 years old, both give birth already, yet they look about 16-18.

    You should never compare the looks of Asians with the looks of Western people of the same age. They will always look years younger.

  • Siegrid

    JennaT,

    Funny how the gymnast in the picture, Deng Linlin, who looks younger than your 11 year old, really is 16 without questioning.
    There have never been doubts about this gymnast. She has been interviewed in 2003 in a documentary about gymnasts training for the Olympics 2008. She said she was 11 back then. That’s five years ago so that makes her 16 today.

    You should see pictures of Kui Yuanyuan and Bi Wenjing these days. They are both 27 years old, both give birth already, yet they look about 16-18.

    You should never compare the looks of Asians with the looks of Western people of the same age. They will always look years younger.

  • Kevin

    Everyone here that wrongly accused Deng Linlin should be ashamed of themselves and donate some money to get the poor girl some braces.

  • Kevin

    Everyone here that wrongly accused Deng Linlin should be ashamed of themselves and donate some money to get the poor girl some braces.

  • tokmik

    what if the Chinese government was lying about other things–Human rights violations, and persecution of Christians? Why are the nations silent?
    _________
    bestdentalcareaz.com

  • tokmik

    what if the Chinese government was lying about other things–Human rights violations, and persecution of Christians? Why are the nations silent?
    _________
    bestdentalcareaz.com

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