MANILA, Philippines – Olympic athletes train for years and years without end to prepare themselves for the world’s premier sports competition.
It isn’t very surprising then, if athletes get emotional when things go awry.
Take for instance, South Korean fencer Shin A Lam.
Shin A Lam staged a dramatic sit-down protest for more than an hour after losing a controversial Olympic Games epee semi-final on Monday, July 30.
A tearful Shin refused to leave the piste after her 6-5 defeat by Germany’s Britta Heidemann as her coach continued to object to the result.
“I am very emotional. I should have won,” said 11th-seed Shin.
The two fencers had been locked at 5-5 inside the extra minute period. The German then scored what she thought was the winning hit, but the Korean coach claimed the assault came after the last second on the clock was up.
It turned out the clock timing the bout became stuck.
This sparked angry scenes from the South Korea team while judges deliberated over how to resolve the contest.
After more than 20 minutes of talks, victory was awarded to Heidemann.
Shin collapsed onto the floor in tears as her coach stormed off, and filed a formal protest.
This prolonged the wait even further, as Shin remained sitting on the piste.
Officials approached Shin encouraging her to leave but she refused to do so. Leaving the piste in fencing means that the fencer has accepted the judges’ ruling.
Finally, a tearful Shin, allowed herself to be escorted out even without the final decision yet.
It later emerged that in order to lodge an official protest, a sum of money had to be deposited with the judging commission.
This extended the wait more, only for the final decision to favor Heidemann. Shin ended up sitting on the piste for a full hour after the contest had finished.
“When there is one second left on the clock it could be one second or one second and 99 hundredths of a second,” said Heidemann.
“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.”
Had Heidemann, the 15th seed not scored the hit, Shin would have won as she had been deemed to be the more aggressive fencer.
Shin returned only a few minutes after leaving the piste to face China’s Sun Hujie for the bronze medal while Ukraine’s Yana Shemyakina was to face Heidemann for gold.
But Shin, with the crowd at the ExCel Centre behind her, was unable to compose herself in time and lost her bronze medal match.
She was later awarded a consolation medal for sportsmanship. -with Agence France-Presse
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