Fencing's Shin Lam offered 'consolation prize' following display of sportsmanship


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The Independent Online

Fencing's governing body tonight offered to commemorate the sportsmanship of South Korean fencer Shin A Lam following the incident which left her in tears during an hour-long wait for a verdict at the ExCeL last night.

Shin went away without a medal in the women's epee after thinking she was through to the final when the clock went to zero during her fight with Germany's 2008 champion Britta Heidemann.

However, Austrian referee Barbara Csar then ruled there was actually still a second left, during which time Heidemann scored and Shin, who stayed on the piste as discussions went on, later lost the bronze medal fight as well.

The Korean team's protest was rejected this morning, but Park Yong-sung, president of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC), later revealed that the Federation Internationale D'Escrime (FIE) want to give Shin some sort of award.

"The FIE proposed it," Park said. "They cannot make a new decision after rejecting our appeal but they are sorry and sympathise with Shin so they want to recognise her in the spirit of the Olympics.

"We are discussing with them the best and proper way of recognising her sportsmanship and fairness. I would like her to be awarded a medal. They (the FIE) are going to do their best. That's what they promised."

Shin, back at the ExCeL arena tonight to see her team-mate Choi Byungchul lose in the semi-finals of the men's foil, told Press Association Sport through an interpreter that she had slept for only about two hours last night.

On the decision to give her a special award, she said: "I've just heard about it, but it does not make me feel better because it's not an Olympic medal.

"I don't accept the result because I believe it was a mistake."

KOC president Park blamed the timing system for the incident, claiming it was not accurate enough.

"They have never experienced this before with three attacks in the last second," he added.

"Their timekeeping machine only has seconds, not fractions of a second. It cannot handle a situation like yesterday. That they admit."

Shin could face Heidemann again in the team event later this week.

In their written appeal the Korean team had said: "I can't agree with the decision of the referee. Who can believe this situation? The Korean team cannot accept this situation."

But an official statement issued in response read: "It is for the referee to decide how much time remains. The referee confirmed the last hit. Neither the DT (the technical director) nor the refereeing delegations can change a question of fact. The DT decides to reject the protest."

Meanwhile, Park confirmed that the Korean team had accepted an apology from their Swiss counterparts after footballer Michel Morganella was expelled from the Games for directing an allegedly racist insult at South Koreans on Twitter.

The 23-year-old defender was sent home after posting the message in the wake of his team's 2-1 defeat to South Korea on Sunday. Morganella has also apologised and his Twitter account has been deleted.