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: