China Gymnasts Golden Amid Age Accusations

Second-place US thinks Chinese girls too young
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2008 7:46 AM CDT
China's gymnastics team members wave to the crowd after receiving their gold medals in the women's gymnastics team finals, Aug. 13, 2008.    (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
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(Newser) – China’s women bested the defending champion US women to take their first gymnastics gold medal today, as the Americans stumbled and the younger, smaller Chinese gymasts won a comfortable lead. But the victory came amid continuing charges that the Chinese competitors—who average 4 foot 9 and 77 pounds—are under the legal age of 16. 

As they were celebrating their victory, Martha Karolyi, the US team manager, noticed one of the girls had a missing tooth, suggesting that her age had been falsified. “I have no proof,” Karolyi told the New York Times, “but it possibly could be true.” China’s coach says the accusations are unfair. “If they think they can tell someone’s age just by looking at them, well, if you look at the foreign athletes, they have so much more muscles than the Chinese,” he said. “Do you then say that they are doping?”