Fencing: South Korean Shin Lam in tears amid major London 2012 controversy

 

South Korean fencer Shin Lam was in floods of tears at the ExCeL arena
tonight after arguably the biggest controversy of the Olympics so far.

The 25-year-old thought she was through to the final of the women's epee when, to her horror and that of her coach Shim Jaesung, the clock was reset from zero to one second.

And when the action resumed German Britta Heidemann, gold medallist four years ago, scored a do-or-die hit that appeared to have given her a place in the final against Ukraine's Yana Shemyakana.

The Korean coach furiously launched an appeal against the decision that had allowed the fight to continue and it was nearly half an hour before it was announced to the crowd - slow-handicapping by this stage - that Heidemann's win stood.

Shin broke down in tears for the second time and while her opponent celebrated she remained on the piste.

The crowd was then told she was doing that because a formal appeal was being considered and if she left the field of play it would be deemed an acceptance of defeat.

By then the bronze medal match should have started, but that faced a lengthy delay - as did the final to follow.

Shin only needed to draw the contest in sudden death because she had been given priority - that is, the onus was on Heidemann to score in the extra minute of sudden death.

The crowd could hardly believe their ears just before 7.40pm - nearly an hour after the incident - when they were told part of the rules was that the Koreans had to lodge money for the appeal to be valid.

Still Shin remained on the piste, bringing back memories of fellow Korean Byun Jong-il's sit-down strike during the boxing in Seoul in 1988.

The big difference was that Shin was an innocent in all this and just doing what she was told.

Just before 8pm an official came onto the piste to encourage Shin to leave, but she was not happy to go just yet.

Another official came on to assist as she dissolved into tears again. Now there were whistles and boos from the crowd as she was led off, although the decision had still not been announced.

As she was hugged by her coach the announcer asked for respect to be shown to the athletes and judges - and also a big round of applause for the world number 12 as she finally left.

The coach left as well, still clearly furious about an outcome that the fans had yet to be told about.

The final should have been staged by then, but the crowd was not able to see what happened next. The spectators had no idea what was going on back stage.

The final decision was that Shin had lost the semi-final and would be in the bronze medal match.

Amazingly it began a few minutes later, the Korean coach saying: "We will try to clam her down, even though she is to be extremely stressed".

Shin somehow summoned up the concentration to take an early 4-2 lead over world number one Sun Yujie - every hit being roared by her new-found fans.

With the last three-minute period to go it was 9-9, but Shin's agony became complete when Sun took the bronze 15-11 and she was left empty-handed from a night she and the audience will never forget.

PA

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions