Well, the gymnastics competitions that are my favorite part of the Olympic Games are over. As usual, the events were dogged with controversy. This year, it had mainly to do with the ages and scores of the Chinese gymnasts.
In 1997, to counter the increasing trend towards younger and younger gymnasts, the International Gymnastics Federation introduced a rule that competitors must be 16 in the year that the event is held. But gold medal winners He Kexin and Yang Yilin looked far younger. And sure enough, says The Guardian, online documents called into question whether either of the gymnasts would reach their 16th birthday this year. The documents relating to He include a page from the Chengdu Sports Bureau website from 2006, which gave her year of birth as 1994, a report in last November's Cities Games at Wuhan which gave her age then as 13, and a story in the China Daily newspaper in May this year, which gave her age as 14. Yang's age was given in online files from the General Administration of Sport in China. Records from 2004, 2005 and 2006 give her date of birth as August 26th 1993. That would make Yang only 15 this year, and 14 when she competed in last year's world championships. Clear-cut as the evidence looks, the IOC allowed these girls to compete because the Chinese government produced “official” passports documenting their ages as 16.
Then, there were the scores. I watched most of the events, and I couldn’t count the number of times ultra-experienced commentators Tim Daggett and Elfie Schlegel remarked that a Chinese gymnast was scored too high on a routine. When these guys say that something gets a deduction, I believe them, and yet the international panel of judges seemed obviously swayed by the cheers of the home court crowd, who of course wanted the Chinese girls to come out on top.
circumstances, it would have been easy for the other competitors to become
discouraged. After all, in a lot of
people’s opinions, some of the women winning gold instead of them were
ineligible, and often not even as good.
But every gymnast handled defeat and unfairness with grace and
dignity. We never saw them look
outraged, or heard them complain publicly to the media. The way these young women handled themselves
sets an example for all of us in the workplace.
Things aren’t always going to work out the way we think they should, and
sometimes this will make us angry and want to quit. We have to remember that the way we react in
an unjust situation often says more about us than any other kind.