If there was a gold medal for most tears shed at these Olympics then South Korean fencer Shin A Lam would have woken up with it alongside her this morning.
Instead there was no gold, no silver, no bronze — just the memory of the night her dreams of glory turned into an absolute nightmare at the ExCeL amid the biggest controversy of the Games so far. For one fleeting moment Shin thought she was through to the final of the individual epee by beating 2008 champion Britta Heidemann. The clock showed zero and the scoreboard read 5-5 — good enough for the 25-year-old under the sport’s rule whereby one fencer is given priority in the event of no winning hit being achieved during a minute of sudden death.
But then the clock was reset to one second, officials later saying because there had been a simultaneous hit by the pair just before the end. They were told to fight on, and Heidemann incredibly scored. Protests were lodged and it took over an hour for the German’s victory to be confirmed — all while Shin stayed on the piste and much of it while she cried her eyes out. Amazingly, she then decided to go on with a bronze medal match just a few minutes later, but lost that to China’s World No 1 Sun Yujie, while Heidemann missed out on a second successive gold, going down to Ukrainian Yana Shemyakina. Shin said through an interpreter: “I think it’s unfair. The one second was over — I should have won.
The hour was really difficult — I was thinking of all the time that I’ve spent training for the Olympics.”