China competing with ‘half-people’?

NOGI KAZUHIRO/AFP/Getty Images Bela Karolyi, the NBC sports analyst who was coach of some of the world’s greatest gymnasts, including Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comaneci, is incensed. He is convinced that China has included underage girls — the age requirement is 16 — on its women’s gymnastics team by forging the girls’ birth dates ...

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593371_080811_olympics2.jpg

NOGI KAZUHIRO/AFP/Getty Images

Bela Karolyi, the NBC sports analyst who was coach of some of the world's greatest gymnasts, including Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comaneci, is incensed. He is convinced that China has included underage girls -- the age requirement is 16 -- on its women's gymnastics team by forging the girls' birth dates on official documents.

Yesterday, in reference to the Chinese gymnasts' childish body sizes (the team average is 4 feet, 9 inches, and 77 pounds), he unleased some verbal venom to the Associated Press:

NOGI KAZUHIRO/AFP/Getty Images

Bela Karolyi, the NBC sports analyst who was coach of some of the world’s greatest gymnasts, including Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comaneci, is incensed. He is convinced that China has included underage girls — the age requirement is 16 — on its women’s gymnastics team by forging the girls’ birth dates on official documents.

Yesterday, in reference to the Chinese gymnasts’ childish body sizes (the team average is 4 feet, 9 inches, and 77 pounds), he unleased some verbal venom to the Associated Press:

They are using half-people. One of the biggest frustrations is, what arrogance. These people think we are stupid.

Gymnastics is famous for its small women — or rather, girls — but the Chinese gymnasts look awfully tiny and juvenile. In comparison, Japan’s team average is 4 feet, 10 inches, and 83 pounds, while the Americans are an average of 5 feet and 107 pounds. Granted, size isn’t always an indicator of age, but the New York Times recently pointed to other evidence of age falsification — inconsistent reporting of some gymnasts’ ages in official documents, media reports, and government Web sites.

The Chinese gymnasts certainly aren’t half-people, but it sounds like the Chinese government might be telling some half-truths.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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