The Olympic fencing tournament took place a few days ago, and it was a long and emotional experience, especially for South Korea’s Shin A. Lam and Germany’s Britta Heidermann. In the last seconds of the match Shin led Britta by a single point. With one second left on the clock, Britta launched a final attack and scored a touch that won her the match. Officially scoring within a single second has been deemed impossible, but Britta managed it due to a technical malfunction with the clock that gave her just enough extra time to score that final point and win the bout, and her spot on the gold metal bout.
Shin and her coaches were enraged when the decision came back that the victory would go to Heidermann despite the technical malfunction. They launched an appeal of course, which proved to be lengthy with an unusual bylaw that required Shin to remain on the playing surface during the duration of the appeal. She cried uncontrollably, shading her head in a towel and occasionally coming up long enough to look at the crowd with red rimmed tear filled eyes. The Korean federation had to expedite a payment in order to use the appeal, but after over half an hour her attempt to overturn the result of the match failed.
Shin obviously should have had a chance at the gold medal, no doubt about it, and to make matters worse for Shin, she was forced to come back and fence for the bronze metal almost immediately. She jumped out at an early lead, but soon fell behind in the bout with China’s Sun Yujie who claimed the bronze with a score of 15-11.
This incident will surely lead to many gripes and arguments going forward from many national federations.
Despite losing her chance at the gold medal and the silver, then losing the bronze, Shin A. Lam walked off the playing surface to thunderous and rapturous applause from the fans, she was cheered and praised, and consoled by her coach, but that still may not go far enough to making the Korean federation feel any better about the entire incident, and missing their chances for a medal.