Published July 30, 2012
A bizarre scene unfolded in the semifinals of the women's epee fencing event at the Olympics on Monday as South Korean Shin A Lam sat alone on the piste -- the elevated surface where competition takes place -- while her match was under protest. Shin was in position to win her match against Britta Heidemann, only to see her hopes for gold fall by the wayside as a result of a confusing ruling at the end of the match.
With one second left on the clock, the match was tied -- Shin would've won on an advantage had the match ended tied. Heidemann attacked twice, and each time the touches were ruled simultaneous. On the third attempt -- the clock had not run down to zero on the previous two for some reason -- Heidemann was awarded a point after a back-and-forth exchange that surely took more than a second.
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The controversy came when Heidemann was awarded the match while the South Korean coach protested the apparent clock malfunction. Because Shin could not leave the piste and still keep her right to protest, she quietly sat alone in front of the crowd, heartbroken at what just happened.
Eventually, Shin left the piste as her protest was struck down. She returned a short time later for the bronze medal match and lost, failing to medal in the event.
In one moment, she had the match in hand, and appeared to be cheated out of a win that would've guaranteed her at least a silver medal. The next, she was back on the piste for a bronze medal match, still riding an emotional wave after such a controversial decision, which perhaps factored into the second loss. Just an absolutely brutal decision that sure looked like the incorrect one.
So judge for yourself: Did more than one second elapse? And should Shin have been awarded the match? Here's the end of the match.