Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Korean fencer stages dramatic sit-in after controversial loss

South Korea's Shin A Lam refused to leave the fencing piste for over an hour to protest a controversial judge's call that had cost her a chance at a gold medal at Monday's London Games.

Shin had to be physically escorted off the piste by officials after her coach argued against the award of a winning touch to Germany's Britta Heidemann in the epee semi-final on what looked like a bogus point.

Heartbreaking shots of the 25-year old Korean fencer crying on the piste in a bizarre protest against the clock being reset from zero to one second that cost her the victory and a chance at gold— especially since Shin thought she had the match in hand.  She did not move after the final touch was awarded to her German opponent.

Replays show that Heidemann's winning thrust came after what seemed like more than one second.

After initial discussion from the officials and a protest by the Korean team,  Heidemann—the defending champion from Germany— ran off screaming with joy after the final decision.  Shin sat dejectedly under the spotlight of the piste with her helmet at her side and tears running down her face while 7,000 rambunctious spectators tried to figure out what was going on.

Shin's coach, Shim Jaesung, filed a formal protest with the FIE (Federation International d'Escrime), the sports governing body, which was rejected.

"Shin told me, 'I am okay,' but I fear she is not okay," said the beleaguered coach.

In what is considered the second fastest object in sports— behind a marksman's bullet— the two double-touches of Heidemann's epee still had to add up to more than a single second.

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