Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Olympic Women's Epee semifinal

between Shin A Lam of South Korea and Britta Heidemann of Germany ended in scandal.

Here's what happened.

The match was tied at 5-5 with one second left on the clock in overtime. Per the rules, in overtime the first non-simultaneous touch wins. Should the score be tied at the end of overtime the winner of a coin toss (tossed before overtime and in this case Shin) would win the bout.

During the final second of overtime, two simultaneous hits were recorded, and Shin was seconds from victory. Then, the third attack occurred. Heidermann's attack was ruled a touch despite the timer malfunctioning by either starting late, not starting until after the point had registered, or somehow totaling longer than one second between the three attacks that had occurred in that second.

Allow me to explain the first of the many failures here.

When the timer was seen to be faulty, the correct action would be to have the fencers resume their en garde stance and try again, this time with the timer issue resolved. This was not done. Instead, Shin was made to wait on the piste for forty-five minutes while the judges evaluated her appeal, ultimately deciding that nothing was to change. While all this happened, an understandably emotional Shin cried on the piste.

This video shows that the total length of time covered by the final second amounted to roughly 1.57 seconds. (the 17 is frames at 32 fps

Ultimately, Heidemann was given the fractional time necessary to execute an attack that was declared a good touch, and the appeal went nowhere, sending Heidemann to the Gold medal match where she took Silver.

Very shortly after the appeal, Shin was made to appear in the Bronze medal match. Not being psychologically or physically prepared for the bout, having had much of her prep time eaten by sobbing on the piste with no idea what her last bout's final result would be, Shin lost, coming in fourth place in London.

None of this even begins to address the ways Heidemann tried to edge her way into advantage against Shin. For those, read prototoast's post below. Overall, the match will undoubtedly become one of those matches where it becomes well-known for all of the wrong reasons.

Whatever happened here, it is definitely the most bollocksed up situation of the 2012 Olympic Games thus far. I echo prototoast's opinion of the match. If you have never watched fencing before, I hope that this was not the day you chose to start.

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