Originally Posted by RBA
In my mind the US won the Gold. Even with their mistakes. There is plenty of evidence that some of the Chinese team were and are not of the required age. That's cheating and the Olympic officials should have a full investigation.
I wouldn't doubt it. There's talk about how they had more difficult routines, but sometimes I wonder if the preference for young girls comes not from any inherent physical advantage that they have, but rather the sport's conventional preference for young girls. Kind of circular thinking, but it seems like ever since Olga Korbut and Nadia Comenici arrived on the scene, gymnastics organizations sought younger and younger girls to be the next Olga or Nadia. Yet, it seems there are still a number of women gymnast still able to compete into their 20s and this year they've got a woman in her 30s for the German team. And consider that female acrobats exhibit incredible flexibility well into their 50s and 60s, it makes me wonder if flexibility is really an issue. Could it be that women gymnasts lose a lot of their flexibility from the injuries they suffer as young girls trying to compete at a high level?
That being said, I don't think they'll solve the age problem in women's gymnastics until they make fundamental changes to the sport that favor women over girls. In watching these Olympics, I've noticed the emphasis is on bendy flips and tricks with little focus on strength or grace. In fact, the parallel bars seem to favor smaller girls because they're so close together. The balance beam seems to put women with larger feet at a disadvantage as well.
What's the solution? I'm no expert, but I have a few ideas. Well, for one, they could do things like move the parallel bars farther apart to favor taller women. They could also change events to include some of the apparatuses used by the men (rings or parallel bars) that require more upper body strength. I think such changes would probably be more effective than an age requirement.