Tag Archives: caster semenya

Macho Sport Meets Female Body

I originally wrote this for I Fry Mine in Butter in 2010.

2000 China women's gymnastics teamThis week the Chinese women’s gymnastics team that competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics was stripped of its bronze all-around team medal for having a member under the minimum age of 16. That so much evidence existed and was in the public for years before this move by the International Olympic Commission—including the athlete’s personal blog and inconsistent birth certificates—is compelling, especially given the furor during the Beijing Olympics in which the same rumors swirled around the 2008 team. Several sports writers and experts have written that the IOC caved in and refused to call China on its willful doctoring of documentation because it was the host country that year and heck, for various other potential reasons that run the gamut from probable to a conspiracy theorist’s dream.

What I want to know is, what is the advantage of the too-young gymnast? Well, when it comes to women’s gymnastics, smaller is better. A shorter length from head to foot increases the likelihood of balance, which is important for pretty much all of the exercises; smaller bodies don’t receive as much stress on their joints from the whipping through the air and hard landings and dismounts; and pre-pubescent bodies still have flexible cartilage at the ends of the bones that make the body slightly more flexible and presumably, a modicum lighter. Read More…

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