Chinese News Agency Put Gymnast's Age at 13

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 14, 2008 8:00 PM CDT
Members of China's gymnastics team, from left, Cheng Fei, Yang Yilin, Li Shanshan, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Deng Linlin.    (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
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(Newser) – Just 9 months before the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government's news agency, Xinhua, reported that gymnast He Kexin was 13, which would have made her ineligible to be on the team that won a gold medal this week. In its report Nov. 3, Xinhua identified He as one of "10 big new stars" who made a splash at China's Cities Games. It gave her age as 13 and reported that she beat Yang Yilin on the uneven bars at those games.

Yang was also on Wednesday's winning team, and questions have been raised about her age and that of a third team member, Jiang Yuyuan. Gymnasts have to be 16 during the Olympic year to be eligible. He herself told reporters after yesterday's final that "my real age is 16. I don't pay any attention to what everyone says."