The semifinal bout of the women’s individual epee competition has many fencing fans and Olympic viewers wondering how the victory was taken away from South Korea’s Shin A-Lam.
The first weekend has been full of controversy in the fencing competitions. On Sunday, July 29, after the victory of Hungarian Aron Szilagyi in the individual men’s sabre competition, the officials played the wrong anthem. Also somewhat of an upset was Ukrainian Yana Shemyakina beating the number one seeded Chinese Sun Yujie in the first semifinal round.
However, this most recent event has 97% of individuals on a Bleacherreport.com poll agreeing that a bad call was made.
During the second semifinal bout South Korean Shin A-Lam, seeded eleventh, was fencing German and Beijing gold-medalist Britta Heidemann, who was seeded fifteenth. The two were tied 5-5 at the end of time and in fencing, ties are determined by something called priority. In priority a minute is put on the clock and a coin or computer determines which player will get the ‘priority,’ meaning that at the end of one minute if neither player has scored then the player with priority wins the bout.
In this priority round Shin had the priority and the clock for priority had run out. However, Shin had committed a penalty so the referee, Barbara Csar, put one second back on the clock. When the bout started up the clock malfunctioned and did not go off in the one second that it was supposed to, giving Heidemann an extra few seconds to score and take the victory.
The judges deliberated for about twenty-five minutes and awarded Heidemann the victory. Shin and her camp immediately appealed, which is a lengthy process. During the appeal Shin had to remain on the piste (the raised platform they fence on) or she would give the victory to Heidemann.
While Shin sat on the piste and cried for about ten to fifteen minutes, her coaches fought valiantly for the win to be overturned or reconsidered. After a short while the Koreans were forced to pay money for the appeal to be considered valid. After almost an hour, the appeal was denied and the victory stayed Heidemann’s.
Heidemann then went on to fence in the finals match versus Ukrainian Yana Shemyakina where Heidemann lost 9-8.
After losing the appeal Shin was then required to fence China’s Sun Yujie for the bronze medal, fifteen minutes (a typical rest period in fencing) after the end of the previous match. However, Shin was still very upset from the previous round and was fencing an incredible epeeist. Sun Yujie won 15-11 and Shin will be leaving the Olympics without any medals.