Perhaps in 4 Years She'll be 16 Again!

China's He won the gold in last night's women's gymnastics uneven bars competition. She tied with Liukin of the U.S., but she won because her execution score was closer to a perfect 10.0, even though her routine was not as hard. First, this is a arbitrary rule. There is an equally good argument that the gymnast that executed the harder routine a little less perfectly should win.
Second, I don't fault He for lying about her age to compete, but she and - more importantly - the juggernaut of the Chinese government did just that. China's own news agency reported last year that she was 13. Anyone who saw her would tell you that's a far more believable age. I was a gymnast - I know how small they can appear from the extreme exertion from a young age. Even on a team of underdeveloped girls, she was tiny. This will taint her medal forever, and that is unfortunate. It also robs Ms. Liukin of her chance at another gold and that is unsportsmanlike.

[ Wondering why Gymnastics restricts competitors to a minimum age of 16? Like the NFL, the sport recognizes the damage it can do. The authorities don't want coaches tossing tweens at tough tricks for Olympic hardware because of the risk to underdeveloped joints. I guess it isn't working.]


Ari said...

The article you link to is misleading. In fact, both He and Liukin had identical difficulty socres (7.7) AND execution scores (9.025). Thus, a second tiebreaker was needed, in which the lowest scoring judge's score was eliminated. Well, actually, they always eliminate the lowest and highest score, so the final score is based on the middle 4 of 6 judges. In this tiebreaker, they also eliminate the second-lowest score. Still, a ridiculous rule.

Ari said...

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnastics_at_the_2008_Summer_Olympics_-_Women%27s_uneven_bars#Tiebreaker_controversy