Fencing: Distraught South Korean Shin Lam says 'I should have won' following clock controversy at London 2012
Tuesday 31 July 2012
If there was a gold medal for most tears shed at these Olympics then Korean fencer Shin A Lam would have woken up with it alongside her this morning.
Instead there was no gold, no silver, no bronze - just the memory of the night her dreams of glory turned into an absolute nightmare at the ExCeL amid the biggest controversy of the Games so far.
For one fleeting moment Shin thought she was through to the final of the individual epee by beating 2008 champion Britta Heidemann.
The clock showed zero and the scoreboard read 5-5 - good enough for the 25-year-old under the sport's rule whereby one fencer is given priority in the event of no winning hit being achieved during a minute of sudden death.
But then the clock was reset to one second, officials later saying because there had been a simultaneous hit by the pair just before the end.
They were told to fight on, and Heidemann incredibly scored. Protests were lodged and it took over an hour for the German's victory to be confirmed - all while Shin stayed on the piste and much of it while she cried her eyes out.
Amazingly, she then decided to go on with a bronze medal match just a few minutes later, but lost that to China's world number one Sun Yujie, while Heidemann missed out on a second successive gold, going down to Ukrainian Yana Shemyakina.
Shin said through an interpreter: "I think it's unfair. The one second was over - I should have won.
"The hour was really difficult - I was thinking of all the time that I've spent training for the Olympics - but I thought if I got a yellow card (for leaving the piste) I might not be able to fight for bronze.
"I just don't understand how this could have happened and I don't really know how to express the way I feel right now.
"I've been trying and working to get an Olympic medal for four years and now I lost it in just one second.
"It's just impossible to accept. I still don't know and most of all I still don't understand why my match was not declared finished."
Czech Frederick Janda, an executive board member of the International Fencing Federation, told reporters: "It was a technical issue and a very unhappy situation - we pay so much money for the technical service."
Heidemann said: "Whenever there is a hit it always goes back to one second.
"Maybe they should think about how the times are recorded, maybe there should be half-seconds.
"I have experienced this against myself before and I am happy with the decision that was made. The whole discussion was unnecessary."
Even though she failed in her bid for double gold she had finally opened Germany's medal account at the Games, but added: "It has been very stressful."
At least Shin still has a chance of a medal in Saturday's team event - and she could face Heidemann in the final.
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