One More Olympic Secret: How Old is He Kexin (何可欣), Really? (Updated)

While Reuters just reported that “China not rattled by age questions,” here is an archived online news report mentioning the age of He Kexin (何可欣), one of China’s famous six. The news was posted on November 3, 2007, written by Xinhua News Agency.

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Translated caption: The thirteen-year-old He Kexin, from Wuhan, met opponent Yang Yilin, who is on the National Team. Amid cheers from her hometown audience, the young girl excellently executed the full set of moves in the finals, and just beat out Yang Yilin, who already had high scores. Lu Shanzhen, the General Coach of the National Gymastic team, also applauded her performance.  

But according to the Reuters’ report:

He, Jiang and Yang’s eligibility for the Games had been called into question by American media.

Online records seemed to suggest the trio may have broken International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) rules that state athletes must turn 16 by the end of an Olympic year.

[...] Question: “He, can you tell us a memory from your 15th birthday please, how did you spend your 15th birthday, did you spend it at home, did you spend it with gymnasts? Can you tell us about that special day.”

Answer: “I was with my team. It was an ordinary day, I didn’t go home, usually we don’t go home when it’s our birthday, we just celebrate with our team mates.”

So the news conference went on and not once did the so-called underaged gymnasts trip up.

Just in case anyone was not satisfied by the answers, coach Lu Shanzhen added: “You may check with the IOC (International Olympics Committee) and the FIG. All our registrations are done with legal evidence. You may also search on the Internet or even check with China Public Security Ministry.”

UPDATE: While coach Lu Shanzhen was so confident about the online records of He Kexin’s age, informtion discovered by Chinese bloggers may surprise her. Here is a partial list of Chinese domestic media reports mentioning He Kexin’s age, translated by John Kennedy in the Global Voices Online:

1、《生活报》2007年11月5日报道:13岁的体操高低杠选手何可欣出色地完成了“李娅空翻”的全套动作,战胜了刚刚获得世锦赛季军的国手杨伊琳。

Life Daily, November 5, 2007: 13 year-old uneven bars athlete He Kexin spectacularly completed the entire “Li Ya Flying Flip” routine, defeating national champion Yang Yilin who herself had just taken bronze at the World Cottbus Cup.

2、《法制晚报》2008年1月22日报道:记者在平衡木训练场地上看到,13岁的小将何可欣正准备做下一组动作,突然被自己的一阵咳嗽打断……

Legal Evening Post, January 22, 2008: On the balance beams training area, the reporter saw 13 year-old newcomer He Kexin preparing her next move, suddenly disrupted by her own coughts……
…..

3、《北京晚报》2007年12月12报道:张佩文口中的“秘密武器”就是最近涌现出的新星何可欣。这名13岁的小将不仅能轻松地完成“李娅空翻”,还在比赛中表现出了与年龄不相符的稳定。

Beijing Evening Post, December 12, 2007: The “secret weapon” mentioned by Zhang Peiwen is none other than the recently-appeared new star He Kexin. At just 13, this newcomer has not only completed the “Li Ya Flying Flip” with ease, but performs in competitions with unusual stability for someone her age.

4、搜狐体育 2007年12月1日报道:张佩文口中的秘密武器,原来就是最近涌现出的新星何可欣。这名13岁的小将不仅能轻松地完成“李娅空翻”,还在比赛中表现出了与年龄不相符的稳定。(值得表扬的是,现在该网页已经将“13”改成了“15”,知错就改,善莫大焉。——王小山注)

Sohu Sports, December 1, 2007: Zhang Peiwen’s secret weapon is none other than new star He Kexin. At just 13, this newcomer has not only completed the “Li Ya Flying Flip” with ease, but performs in competitions with unusual stability for someone her age. (Worth noting here is that now the “13″ has already been changed to “15″ )

5、《长江商报》2007年12月1日报道:13岁的体操高低杠选手何可欣相当漂亮地完成“李娅空翻”的全套动作,战胜刚刚获得世锦赛季军的国手杨伊琳。

Changjiang Business Post, Dec. 1, 2007: Thirteen year-old uneven bars athlete He Kexin beautifully completed the full set of moves in the “Li Ya Flying Flip” routine, defeating national champion Yang Yilin who herself had just taken bronze at the World Cottbus Cup

6、《人民日报》2007年11月3日报道:13岁的何可欣在女子体操比赛中出色地完成高低杠“李姮空翻”。2007年11月3日报道:13岁的何可欣在女子体操比赛中出色地完成高低杠“李姮空翻”。

People’s Daily, Nov. 3, 2007: Thirteen year-old He Kexin spectacularly completed the “Li Ya Flying Flip” on the girls’ uneven bars gymnastics competition.

Here is also some information originally on the www.sport.gov.cn (deleted already) from China’s National Sports Administration:

translation: List of Athletes… He Kexin, Birth date: Jan. 1, 1994.

补充公布第一批城运会交流运动员名单

信息来源:国家体育总局 录入时间:2006-3-16

第六届全国城市运动会各参加单位:
  根据第六届城市运动会竞赛规程总则的要求,现补充公布第一批城运会交流运动员名单(附后)。各单位可登陆国家体育总局网站进行查看,网址:www.sport.gov.cn。

二○○六年一月二十七日

运动员交流交流协议名单

项目:体操

序号 姓 名 性别 出生年月日 原注册单位 现交流单位

10 何可欣 女 199411 北京体育局 武汉体育局

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In the speech given by Liu Peng (刘鹏), Director of China’s National Sports Administration on November 13, 2007, Liu also mentioned He Kexin’s age: 13.

Also from David Flumenbaum in the huffingtonpost.com:

EXHIBIT A: A China Daily article dated May 23, 2008 titled “Uneven-bars queen the new star in town” about He Kexin. This is the cached version (thanks Google) of the article as seen on August 4, 2008.

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EXHIBIT B: The same China Daily article dated May 23, 2008 titled “Uneven-bars queen the new star in town” about He Kexin. This is the version currently available online. As you can see, when compared to EXHIBIT A, everything is identical. Except for one little thing. The state-run newspaper has changed He’s age.

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Read also:
* China’s early press coverage of “secret weapon” He Kexin from China Media Project.
* In An Ancient Land, Age Is Just A Concept For Some Competitors by the Globe and Mail
* Hack the Olympics by blogger Stryde.
* International Olympic Committee Launches Probe into He Kexin’s Age by The Times