But there are some startling physical differences. On the medal podium, the Chinese team was dwarfed by the Americans and Romanians, who were strikingly taller and more muscular than the gold medalists. On average, the Chinese gymnasts are 3 and a half inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than their American counterparts. The smallest American is the 16-year-old Shawn Johnson, who is listed at 4' 9", 90 pounds. She is the only American team member under 5 feet.
At the age of 14 and a half, Comaneci was a kid herself when she won gold at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, scoring the first-ever perfect 10.0 score in Olympic history. At that time, gymnasts were required to turn fifteen during the calendar year of the Games.
Comaneci disagrees with the new age requirement, set by the FIG. "I don't think that helps. Because if the kid is great at fourteen, she should compete at fourteen," she told ABC News.
Speaking from experience, Comaneci says, "It's a lot of work to be able to be so good at such a young age."
Fangda Wan contributed research to this story.