Local Gymnasts Happy With Decision to Strip China of Medals

ICO to award team bronze medal to Team USA

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    The International Olympic Committee is stripping the Chinese women's gymnastics team of its bronze medals, which will be awarded to Team USA.

    North Texas gymnasts are applauding a decision to award the U.S. women's Olympic team bronze medals for the 2000 Sydney Games.

    An investigation found that China entered an underage gymnast in the competition. The International Olympic Committee told the country to give back its bronze medals, which will be awarded to Team USA.

    Coaches and athletes at the World Olympics Gymnastics Academy in Plano said they are glad Team USA is finally getting the medals it deserves. The gym is home to two Olympic champions, Nastia Liukin and Carly Patterson.

    "For most of the girls, it's a one chance only," said Yevgeny Marchenko, co-owner of WOGA. "Very few make more than one Olympics. How embarrassing it is to get stripped of a medal."

    Madison Kocian, a member of the U.S. Junior National Team, said she was "very excited" for Team USA.

    "They've worked so hard, and I think they deserve it," she said. "But at the same time, it's a little sad for them (the Chinese women's team) to not get it."

    But Kocian said it was also "a little sad" that the entire Chinese women's team was taking the fall because of just one teammate.

    Dong Fangxiao was said to be 17 years old at the time of the games, but an investigation revealed she was only 14 -- too young to compete.

    "I feel very sorry for the people who put the athletes in this situation," Marchenko said.

    "It's very difficult to say, because a lot of Chinese gymnasts always look very young," Marchenko said.

    People raised suspicions again at the 2008 Beijing Games, when Liukin won the all-around gold, but took silver on the uneven bars. News media reports, gymnastics fans and USA Gymnastics had questioned if He Kexin, of China, who took the gold, was younger than 16.

    "Well, we'll find out in 2018, I guess," Marchenko said with a laugh.

    The International Gymnastics Federation investigated the allegations and said in October 2008 that all six members of the 2008 Chinese team were old enough to compete.