Just a quick post this Wednesday morning. Like the rest of America, I had the Olympics last night. The team that made the biggest impression on me was the Chinese, not because they performed the best–which they did–but because they are tiny.
Yes, I do realize that both Chinese people and gymnasts typically come bite-sized, but there is no way these girls are all past the minimum Olympic age of 16, like their government claims they are. Even more absurd, the passports issued by the very same government suffices to document their age eligibility for the IOC. Read more about it from the NY Times here.
The funny thing is that everyone seems to know that China is cheating. When talking to NBC’s Bob Costas, famed gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi kept on going on about the scandal until Costas interrupted him to cut to the floor excersize.
My problem, besides the cheating aspect of it, is that these little girls, no matter how technically sound they may be, lack the polish of an older gymnast. The place that it really shows is floor excersize.
Women’s floor excersize just pisses me off. It’s an event with an identity crisis. Is it about running, tumbling, and flipping or is it about dancing? If it’s about gymnastics, why the hell do they do it to that annoying music that just makes the actual gymnastic component of the routine look ridiculous? It’s like they had their sport, watched a winter Olympics and saw figure skating and got jealous.
My point is that a 14 year old girl just doesn’t have the polish that an older girl has. The girls were so flawless in execution and then tried to shimmy a little and looked like, well, underdeveloped 14 year old girls.
Another thing that really bothered me is the lives these girls live. They’re scouted in nurseries and taken from their families at age 3, from which point on they only see them once a year as they become part of the Chinese gymnastics machine. Al Trautwig (who, by the way, was great last night) mentioned how the 20 year-old Chinese team captain wanted to quit several times because the girl missed her family (she’s the middle one in the top row of the picture above). Think about it: for these girls, gymnastics is their life. America’s Alicia Sacramone messed up, but she has a life to get back to after it’s over. (American girls train from age 10, by the way.) Kind of sad.
Oh well. Sucks to be an athletic three-year-old Chinese girl.