In a stunning incident, South Korean fencer Shin Alam saw one second last far too long in her individual epee semifinal against Germany’s Britta Heidemann.
She and her coach appealed, and she stayed alone on the piste for nearly 70 minutes sobbing.
The appeal was rejected and thrown mentally, Shin lost in the match for the bronze. On previous days, Cho Jun-ho in the men’s under-66 kilogram judo tournament was awarded a win Sunday (KST) only to have it overturned. Cho did eventually take bronze. On Saturday (KST), star swimmer Park Tae-hwan went on a rollercoaster ride of an Olympic scale when he was disqualified in the 400-meter freestyle heat — then reinstated several hours later — and then won silver in the event he was expected to claim gold.
The high rate of Korean athletes involved in judging controversies has the country up in arms, in particular, whether the referees are biased against Team Korea. Sports watchers are saying that despite improved performances by South Korean athletes, the prowess of the country’s sports diplomacy has yet to develop.
The country currently has two members on the International Olympic Committee — Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee and Moon Dae-sung, former Olympic taekwondo gold medalist.
But the modern Olympic Games have always been riddled with controversy. In London, more than 10,000 athletes are competing for 302 medals in 29 events. This sheer magnitude of people, passion and sweat combined will invariably mean that there will be sweetness of victory, the agony of defeat, and the numbing outrage and frustration over “unfair” calls. Ultimately, it will still be about the pursuit of the highest ideal of sportsmanship and civility.
The International Fencing Federation has offered Shin a special medal. The fencer has said that she will focus on her team event first and then consider the IFF’s offer.