South Korea’s Shin A-lam returned to the fencing piste on Monday after making a one-hour protest against a controversial judge’s call that had cost her the chance of a gold medal.
Shin was physically escorted off the piste after her team argued against the award of a winning touch to Germany’s Britta Heidemann in the epee semi-final.
The defending champion from Germany later went on to lose the final to Ukrainian Yana Shemyakina, while Shin was beaten 15-11 by top seed Sun Yujie of China in the bronze-medal match.
After initial discussions resulted in Heidemann being awarded the final touch in the semi-final, a stunned Shin did not move.
The South Korean did not leave the piste as this would have indicated she accepted the decision of the judge, Austrian Barbara Csar. By staying, Shin was exercising her rights under the rules.
An indelible image of Shin will linger in the memory, a 25-year-old looking dejected as she sat on a dramatically spot-lit piste, pristine in her white uniform with a towel draped over her shoulders.
Her coach, Shim Jae-sung, lodged a written complaint that was ultimately rejected by the Federation International d’Escrime (FIE), fencing’s governing body.
“I did everything I could,” Shim said in an interview while standing outside the FIE office at the Excel Centre.
Executive members of the FIE board were meeting late into the night discussing the contents of a statement due for release yesterday.
“They said your fencer has to continue the match, so I had to accept the decision,” Shim said.
“Shin told me: ‘I am OK,’ but I fear she is not OK,” the drained-looking coach added.
Germany’s fencing delegation head, Manfred Kaspar, and Shim were seen having calm discussions while the officials deliberated.
“I completely agree with my colleague from [South] Korea’s decision to make a protest against a refereeing decision. We are not angry,” Kaspar said.
The row erupted when two double-touches were recorded with a second to go and Shin thought she had triumphed, but a single second was put back on the clock after some discussion. Heidemann then unleashed a blistering surge forward, hitting Shin, while also avoiding her blade.