Congratulations to your daughter! That would be a dream for my daughter too, who also has a year end birthday, so fingers crossed for some point in the future I guess. I wish they did give out medals in age groups at least!The national grades age thing is a difficult one. In essence I think you are both right. On the one hand as Learning Parent has said it gives the late starters or slower developers a chance to compete doing exactly the same skills as everybody else irrespective of age but on the other hand I think as Annikins is suggesting the system can be open to legal manipulation by some clubs holding back their gymnasts for that extra year in order to increase the chances of national finals qualification. In our region I have often had more than a little suspicion that a “little game playing” in a few small areas might be going in to increase success.
The girls of all ages may be doing the same grades skills but nobody can deny that the girls that are maybe 1 to 3 years older than the youngest gymnasts will be physically far stronger due to age which can be an advantage on many of the disciplines. That being said ,maybe the older ones may not be quite as flexible or some of them have become quite tall which generally does not help.
I remember thinking at national 4 that due to the open age that the playing field was not exactly level particularly as my daughter had a near year end birthday. However on the plus side I think the older girls competing drove her to work harder. She went on to miss out on a national 3 place by around 0.5 but finally qualified at national 2 this year winning a number of golds in her region.
My daughter has now experienced a national final which had been her dream for the last few years. She is hoping to achieve the same next year but is a lot more relaxed about things now, going to the final at least once was the main thing.
There have been between 2 and 3 older girls who made a top 5 place in each of her national grade years and I suspect this is probably the case in other regions. Whatever the rights and wrongs I do sympathise with other gymnasts and their parents who may miss out on the opportunity of a national grade final which may we’ll have been attained in an in age event.
Just one final thought. How many other national children's sports completions can anyone think of that are open on child age to compete subject to a minimum age. Just out of curiosity this one as I cannot think of one right now !
As for your other question, no I can't think of any other sports with a minimum age. Maybe it's because of the potential risks? Which then makes me think of something like go karting?!