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It’s got to be all the jumping and landing. Yeah, that definitely crunches the joints together and can’t be good for a young, growing human being.
If you took a look at every member of every Olympic gymnastic team, you’d assume there’s something in this sport that cuts off their bone development somewhere around the age of nine.
The truth, however, is that short people have a greater advantage over tall individuals in gymnastics. Their slight stature gives them a lower center of gravity, and therefore better balance—a critical component in the acrobatic movements required of gymnasts.
So there isn’t any development-slowing juice in the water at gymnastics facilities, there just happens to be a strong genetic bias toward short people in the sport.