OK, first of all, I don’t necessarily have a problem with China winning gold medals in women’s gymnastics. Their athletes are obviously talented and well-coached.
That said, what Stryde Hax, an Internet security consultant, has done is nothing short of great detective work. The media has been batting around the allegations that at least one of the young gymnasts were too young to be competing, but it wasn’t until Stryde did some searches and found that at least one — He Kexin, the gold medalist on uneven bars — seems to indeed be under the Olympic age limit of 16.
Stryde, whose real name is Mike Walker, dug past Google searches, used a China-based search engine and was able to track down pretty damning evidence that He was born Jan. 1, 1994, making her 14.
Again, the story here for me isn’t that He could be made ineligible and forced to give back her medals; that Nastia Liukin, who ended up with the silver on bars due to an odd tiebreaking procedure, would get the gold; that Beth Tweddle, Britain’s gymnastic superhero, would finally get an Olympic medal.
All of these resukts would be interesting, should China and He be punished: Rules are rules and those that broke them for He should be made to pay; Liukin is a deserving champion; Tweddle, save for one error, probably would’ve won the gold running away.
No, for me, Stryde has shown that given the gumption and a little know-how about how search engines work, anyone can bust a huge story wide open.