Gymnasts still waiting

The Baltimore Sun

The competition is long over, and with the Olympics about to end, China's gold-medal women's gymnastics team was still awaiting one final ruling from the judges.

Officials from the International Gymnastics Federation pored over documents yesterday in hopes of putting to rest, once and for all, persistent questions about the ages of all but one member of the six-person team. Chinese gymnastics officials handed over passports, identification cards and family residence permits after the FIG - at the request of the International Olympic Committee - asked for additional documentation on He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Jiang Yuyuan, Deng Linlin and Li Shanshan.

"All information is in Chinese, and the [federation] is making as thorough analysis as possible of the papers," the FIG said in a statement. "This process may take some time, but in due course, the FIG will make a full report of our findings to the International Olympic Committee."

There is no deadline for the investigation.

The Chinese have insisted the entire team is old enough to compete. Gymnasts have to turn 16 during the Olympic year to be eligible. Some media reports and online documents have suggested they could be as young as 14.

If evidence of cheating is found, four of China's six medals could be affected. In addition to the team gold, He won gold on the uneven bars and Yang got bronze medals on the uneven bars and in the all-around.

He was a last-minute no-show at a concert last night with other Chinese gold medalists, and no explanation was given. Cheng Fei, the only team member whose age hasn't been questioned, was there but did not do interviews.

This month, the Associated Press found registration lists previously posted on the Web site of the General Administration of Sport of China that showed He and Yang were too young to compete. He was born Jan. 1, 1994, according to the 2005, 2006 and 2007 registration lists. Yang was born Aug. 26, 1993, according to the 2004, 2005 and 2006 registration lists. In the 2007 registration list, however, her birthday was changed to Aug. 26, 1992.

The IOC has been quick to stress that all of the documentation it has so far supports China's insistence that the girls are the proper age and indicated it did not expect that to change.

Phelps:: It really was that close between Michael Phelps of Rodgers Forge and Milorad Cavic of Serbia. Official timekeeper Omega released a digital photo sequence of the riveting 100-meter butterfly finish Aug. 16 at the Olympics - and it's still not clear to the naked eye just who won. However, according to Omega timer Silvio Chianese, the results are clear. "In the third set of images, with Phelps on the left, it is clear he is really pushing hard, while Cavic, on the right, is just arriving," Chianese said. Phelps' time of 50.58 seconds was confirmed after a review down to the ten-thousandth of a second. Cavic's time was 50.59. Chianese explained that it requires 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of pressure to activate the touch pad. "Any less and waves would set it off," Chianese said. "You can't just put your fingertips on the pad. You really have to push it." (To see the photo sequence, go to )

Decathlon:: American Bryan Clay, who won gold in the event Friday, is looking forward to making his next dream come true. "I would love for the Wheaties box to happen," Clay, 28, said. He led wire-to-wire in holding off Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus, 8,791-8,551, to become the first U.S. winner since Dan O'Brien in 1996. "That would be the next dream."

Synchronized swimming:: A member of Japan's team had to be helped out of the pool during the final after she apparently fainted. Hiromi Kobayashi, a 23-year-old competing in her first Olympics, was taken off the deck on a stretcher after hyperventilating as the routine ended. She recovered and didn't have to be hospitalized. The Japanese team tied the United States for fifth in the final.

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