Thursday, August 2, 2012

South Korean's controversial fencing loss blamed on 15-year old timekeeper

The heartbreaking image of Olympic fencer Shin A-lam sobbing on the piste for over an hour after being robbed of a medal because of poor time management will be etched in Olympic photo albums forever.  Now, it's been revealed that the culprit behind the gaffe is a 15-year old volunteer.

So how does the International Fencing Federation (FIE) mend the shattered dreams of an athlete who's trained for years and lost everything on a bogus call by a teenager— they offer her a "consolation prize" for sportsmanship.

I thought they outlawed child labor in England during Dicken's lifetime anyway.  The teenager is barely old enough for working papers and she's handling the clock of an Olympic sport?

The South Korean fencer lost to German Britta Heidemann in the women's epee semi-finals after the 'tween timekeeper put  one second back on the scoreboard after time had run out.  Shin was winning at the time.

Three plays later, there was still a second on the clock and Shin was on the short end of the score when time ran out.  One play in a single second second is hard enough, but three?

After waiting for over an hour in front of 8,000 screaming spectators for the judges to make a ruling, Shin was reluctantly escorted off the piste by officials.

Protests by her coaches to the FIE went unheeded and Shin was eliminated from the medal rounds.

It was a "delicate situation' said the FIE— putting it mildly.

FIE referee Kim Chang-gon had this explanation.  "I checked after the game.  It was a 15-year old British volunteer girl who was doing the timekeeping."

Heidemann, the defending gold medalist, lost in the finals to Yana Shemyakin of the Ukraine.

You don't want to put all the blame on a young girl— who is probably feeling pretty bad herself— but why would she be handling such an important Olympic job?  The FIE is the real villain here.

A fencing epee is considered to be the second fastest object— behind a marksman's bullet— in sports.  A 15-year old has the attention span of a Twitter post.  Did the FIE do the math?

Maybe if Justin Bieber and Robert Pattinson were on the piste, she would have been paying attention.

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