I'm going to disagree here.Older gymnasts certainly can handle the demands, if they train smarter. Chusovitna, Jessica Lopez, and most of the men prove this. The older gymnasts tend to have a higher maturity, especially on floor, which is very nice.An older gymnast is also more likely to listen to their body and STOP when necessary. Yes, there are juniors doing extremely difficult routines. But tend to be at ages where they SHOULDN'T. Shallon Olsen is a top example. They are at ages where they should focus on basics. Maybe train some of the higher skills- but save them! Furthermore, if the age limit was lowered to 15, people would simply complain about the poor FOURTEEN year olds. Same thing if it was lower. We have age limits for many things. I would support raising the limit...True, there may be no way to really prove age- but there should be much stricter sanctions if it is proven- even beyond what North Korea got. Figuratively, heads should roll. For gymnasts, coaches, and the federation.The other point for me is that you can't say that these are just kids and that they shouldn't have to take the blame for breaking rules (Raducan in Sydney, Dong Fangxiao in Sydney), if you also think they should be able to complete at the senior level. If they are mature enough to compete at the senior level, they are mature enough to take full responsibility for taking a banned substance or competing underage.
I know Fangxiao Dong personally and she didn't know her age going into the Sydney Olympics. The chinese gymnastics association and government kept it from her - how else would you expect a gymnast breaking rules to act so innocently at the biggest sporting event in the world?! They're GYMNASTS NOT ACTORS. I think you should get your facts straight before making assumptions
What about the gymnast who are at thier best at 14 or 15. Look at Rebecca Bross, she likely would have been on the 2008 team. Basically, since 2010 worlds has been constantly injured & now might not make the 2012 team. After hanging on for four years! Katelyn Ohashi, who has the best beam routine in the world dosen't even get a chance to try to make the team is a joke! She likely would have won the gold at worlds. Even Nastia who recovered in time for the 2008 games. Spent a full two years injured. What about the girls who are just a few weeks or months short of eligibility. It's not like it's stopped younger girls from training hard. Which is the supposed purpose of the rule! I mean look at all the 14 year olds doing Amanar's in the U.S. Katelyn Ohashi scored 60.000 points at Pac Rims. With more difficulty than many seniors.
In any sport, some people will be better before the age they can compete. As far as Ohashi (Bross too..), Valeri shouldn't push so much difficulty so early! He knew Ohashi would not be eligible for London! Nastia/Bross perhaps if the difficulty HAD waited, they wouldn't be injured so frequently. Bross injured herself on the second day of Nats doing a vault that, at least at that specific time, she should NOT have done. PERIOD. (Mustafina injured herself doing a vault with really poor form...)Why is Ohashi throwing a layout full on beam? She doesn't even get full credit for it! Why not simply use a layout and train the layout full? The training gym has more mats, trampolines, things to make practicing this skill easier on the body.It might not stop all young girls from training so hard. This is a problem with the COACHES. Yes, they are just KIDS at 12,13,14!!! They don't have the maturity to say no if necessary. Therefore, they aren't ready to compete the senior level. If the age limit is dropped or reduced, I think even more injuries will occur.If training is paced properly, they are much less likely to peak too early. Less likely to injure themselves too. The other point is that if the major skills are held back a little longer, athletes can learn at least some after growth spurts. Less to adjust. You cannot say people cannot learn new skills when they are older. Look at Mohini Bhardwaj, or Jessica Lopez, or ASac, the slightly younger Peng Peng Lee... I personally think that in addition to only counting F/G elements as Es for juniors, they should be restricted in the number they even can compete. People miss eligibility for things by a week all the time. In this case, they KNEW they would not be eligible, so training should be planned around that. Finally, increasing the age limit has greatly improved the level of maturity in routines. This is a very good thing. It could be argued that men's gymnastics is better in some respects because men can't rely as much on older athletes retiring. Keep in mind, WAG is the only gymnastics discipline with 16 age limit. The others are all older.
Injury prevention is an incredibly flimsy argument, I think, to support age restrictions. Women's artistic gymnastics is the only sport I know where EVERYBODY gets hurt. It's not a matter of 'if' you will get injured but 'when'. So raising or lowering (or even eliminating) age restrictions is unlikely to promote safety. The sport is hazardous by nature, and this is part of its allure. Doing gymnastics is like playing football without safety gear. And tightening or loosening its membership will not affect the outcome. It's in the game.Age legislation has more to do with limiting personal and corporate liability than ensuring the health and well-being of athletes.
Absolutely. I agree with you. Injury prevention is something every coach works at, but no one succeeds because they are not preventable. They can come from something as easy as your foot slipping on a roundoff on beam, then where does your argument lie? Certainly not in limiting those. Should we raise the age limit? Should we lower the age limit? I believe it's not the public's decision. If you can win at 13 and be healthy doing I believe that's between a coach an athlete and a parent. Fine if you'd like to limit your kid... Go for it. But don't bring half ideas to an argument as controversial as this one because there are holes in it. As for older gymnasts.. Chusovitna sat out a recent competition with injury. Asac is trying to come back from an Achilles tear. Jessica Lopez is always HEAVILY wrapped because of age. Beth tweddle is retiring after this year because of Age. Lauren Mitchell just gave up the all around because her body isn't responding as well the older she gets. So do some gymnasts benefit from older age? Yeah I guess they do. Do some benefit from being younger? Definitely. It goes both ways.