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Chinese Gymnastics Association to Bin Age Fraud?

Last week, when visiting the Hubei Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium, a newly built structure to be used as a training center for Chinese gymnasts in the national team, Huang Yubin, head coach of Chinese gymnastics team and deputy director of National Gymnastics Administrative Center, said in a meeting that Chinese gymnastics is facing a crisis of talent famine and “may draw gold blank at the London 2012 Olympic Games.”

“Chinese gymnastics team have won 17 golds in the previous Olympic Games, to which gymnasts from Hubei province contributed seven of them. Given the current situation in Hubei, how can I not be worried?” said Huang.

The head coach also noted that Chinese gymnastics has been suffering from “inner attrition” very badly in the last ten years. The new-found talent famine, according to Huang, is due to some structural problems and infightings [among teams at various levels].

“That China won 6 golds at the 2009 World Artistic Gymnastics Champs is only superficial, you all can’t see the crisis behind it!”

Huang said these words one week after the International Gymnastics Federation issued their decision to strip a gold medal won by team China at the Sydney Games after finding out there’s a “presumed violation of the age limit for participation” in the case of Dong Fangxiao, a female gymnast.

It suggests that the National Gymnastics Association may has decided to tackle the age problem in the country to prepare for competitions years after. For a country that has been supposedly getting ahead by staging underage gymnasts since, let’s say 2000, it could cost them golds at least in London.

The thing in Chinese gymnastics is, local teams and coaches at various levels have been following the trend of recruiting underage players and they understand clear that once the paperwork is done, it’s almost impossible to tell how old exactly a young lady is. So whatever agenda is on Huang’s mind to get things right, it’s no easy task.

Source: Wuhan Morning Post (武汉晨报 in Chinese)

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