LONDON – South Korea fencer 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.
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 second on the clock was up.
That sparked angry scenes while judges deliberated over how to resolve the contest.
After more than 20 minutes of talks, victory was awarded to Heidemann and Shin collapsed onto the floor in tears as her coach stormed off.
But it then emerged that in order to lodge an official protest, a sum of money had to be deposited with the judging commission and, once the cash had been found, the arguments continued inside the arena.
Shin remained sitting on the piste, a full hour after the contest had finished. She was eventually persuaded to leave and embraced her coach before departing the arena.
“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.
Minutes after being escorted out of the arena by officials, Shin returned 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 was beaten again.