Sunday, August 9, 2009

Surprise... surprise....Bela Speaks his Mind...

Once again.  here is his take on the Chinese age controversy, expressed one year later to the Dallas News SportsDay;

It's an interesting read.  He also talks about the upcoming Nationals, and compares his and Marta's experience to the Liukin's WOGA-building experience.  Hit the link above if you want to read the whole thing.

"When you look at the cheating in Beijing and the cowardice of the International Gymnastics Federation and the IOC and the hurting way they handled everything.  I just want to tell you one thing: Rebecca Bross, a young child who had about a month-and-a-half to be able to compete in the Olympic Games- she was just as good, like any of these Chinese Teams..... Or look at Nastia Liukin in the previous Olympics.  She could have competed, she was ready-no doubt about it.  How can (officials) lay down and how can you accept obvious steal, a crime, knowing the world is watching and the whole world sees what is illegal"

When asked if they should abolish the age limit....

"Absolutely.  Take it away and forget it.  This is an obvious and blatant discrimination.  It only creates heartache and headache"

On keeping gymnasts healthy:

"And if you open up the age, you can actually level the field and help the athlete.  One, you are not looking at only one Olympics.  If you see you have two or three chances at an Olympic medal, then maybe you would develop more slowly.... I also think you would see a rise in the general age of the participants in the Olympic Games.  People would see the long-term value of building to a peak."

So, what do you think?  I have to say, he has a great point about the development thing.  Perhaps there would be less injuries as gymnasts strive to peak in a timely fashion, or hold put for an Olympic peak reach.

I still totally stand by my stance on the dangers of abolishing the age limit of gymnasts on an international level (See "That Old Age Chestnut") but I can totally see the benefits too.

Another aspect is that if gymnasts start competing at a younger age, they can have a career, and if they want, retire in time to do college gymnastics, or start a new direction in college.  Or they can keep going.  What would be great is that they would have the luxury of time to decide if this is exactly what they want to do and how they want to go about it.


  1. I thank you by standing up to keeping the age limit. I want to keep it too.

    "People would see the long-term value of building to a peak.""
    People may see it but it won't stop them from pushing girls. Look at Lizzy L. She's being pushed. They will push the girls.

  2. I think that he really does have a point about the development and if they see that they can have a cchance to make more than one olympics than they may develop more slowly. But I do think they should have an age limit BUT they should lower it may down to 14 or 15 again.

  3. I'm the anonymous from Ireland in the post about patriotic gymnastics!

    I've always been disgusted by putting under-age gymnasts out there. The sport must have some ethics, some code of conduct. Yes, children can twist more and jump higher, but if we accept the restrictions of the age limit then we also have to judge competitive gymnastics by the standards that are presented in the field - there is no point comparing Nastia of 2004 and Nastia of 2008 - it is a moot comparison. The sooner the sport stops looking on this as negotiable the easier it will be to reorient expectations to seeing women doing what they are capable of at the age of 16 and above. I think a lot of the problem rests with attitudes like that of Bela's - the vision of a golden age with a supposed higher standard - in fact, inevitably attitudes like this lead to judges subconsciously expecting the kind of tricks a twelve year old can do.

    I was interested to read Suzanne Yoculan's take on this - her strategy for ensuring that NCAA gymnasts don't burn out is strength conditioning appropriate to body mass. You can read about it in a google preview of her book Perfect 10.

    A further point about Bela's attitude is to reiterate something that you have already covered in another post - this "Olympist" mentality that it is the 4-year peak that matters. If other competitions were valued as they should be (eg. Worlds, Commonwealth) then the necessity of the perfect peak every quad wouldn't be so imperative.

    In the end of the day - I just don't think it is fair - children's bodies are too fragile and underdeveloped to push - and their minds are too fragile too. Not something that ever seems to have concerned the Karolyis particularly.

    Btw - thanks for the Ireland post - yes, N. Irish athletes compete for the UK, not the Republic - so still have to wait for those young hopefuls to come through! Will be watching out for them at Worlds - you're lucky having got the gold seats - I took my eye off the game and ended up with only a silver as the gold had all sold out :-(