South Korean Fencer Sits Down For An Hour On Piste After Controversial Ruling As Coaches Scramble For Cash To File Challenge

The fencing competition came to a halt yesterday after South Korea fencer Shin A-Lam sat weeping on the piste for over an hour after a controversial ruling in the semi-final. As the father of a couple fencers, I was not surprised by the controversy but I was surprised by one of the reasons for the delay — a lack of cash.

The 25-year-old epee fencer thought the bout was over when the clock was reset with one second on the clock. Shin refused to leave the piste after her opponent, Germany’s Britta Heidemann, was given a point for a touch that the Koreans insisted occurred after after the final second was up. The two were locked in a 5-5 tie and the touch gave the match to Heidemann. The Korean coach went ballistic but was overruled in his objection after more than 20 minutes of discussion.

Shin shocked many by refusing to leave the piste but her coaches were trying to file a challenge at the time.

However the greatest surprise was the appellate rules for such competitions. The rest of the delay was caused by the fact that in order to lodge an official protest, “a sum of money had to be deposited with the judging commission.” It took almost an hour for the Koreans to come up with the scratch to lodge a protest.

Why on Earth does a protest require the actual transfer of money in the Olympics? I am pretty sure the South Koreans are good for the cash. It seems distinctly unOlympic to demand that a nation pony up the cash if they wanted to be heard.

What do you think?

Source: Daily Mail

22 thoughts on “South Korean Fencer Sits Down For An Hour On Piste After Controversial Ruling As Coaches Scramble For Cash To File Challenge”

  1. Seen in the NZ Herald: Some events that did not make the cut, unfortunately:

    Let the daft games begin

    An amusing Twitter hash tag (#RejectedOlympicEvents) took off yesterday. These are my top 10:

    1. 50m sprint to the fridge.
    2. Women’s parallel parking.
    3. Synchronised racism.
    4. Fitted sheet folding.
    5. Fart jumping.
    6. Lightsabre fencing.
    7. 100m emotional hurdles.
    8. Wrestling with inner demons.
    9. Menstrual cycling.
    10. Cross dressage.

  2. It wasn’t a protest… The Olympic rules say that leaving the Piste is an automatic acceptance of the ruling despite any appeal. She had no choice, but to wait for the decision from the formal appeal. The issue of it taking so long had nothing to do with her waiting for the decision. Even the match was a bit fishy with the clock remaining for 1 second for a while until a point was made.

  3. It was not a protest. You’re completely inaccurate. No one was shocked by it. Her side appealed and she did what was required of her. She wasn’t the one who halted proceedings for that long. The judges did that.

  4. Mr. Turley;
    I take exception to your comment
    “Shin shocked many by refusing to leave the piste — a display of unsportsmanlike conduct for an elite athlete.”

    It is simply inaccurate. Traditionally, one does not leave the piste when there is question outstanding (an official appeal was submitted).

  5. How about a $25K cash deposit on NFL replays instead of the possible loss of a timeout?

  6. Q: “Why on Earth does a protest require the actual transfer of money in the Olympics?”

    A: Because the Olympics is no longer a sport of amateurs but a commercial racket.

  7. I saw what Raff had observed. When the contender went to the judges to lodge his protest he reached up with the forms and had a blatently obvious American currency note in his hand. My first thought was “A bribe? Have you lost your mind? At least be subtle about it.”

    The announcer then brought up that under the new rules, a cash deposit is required and if the objecting team wins the ruling, the money is returned but if the judges reject it, the money is retained.

    I don’t know if this is a mechanism to deter frivolous objections but I don’t see how this would work since millions is invested in presenting the team to the games and a few hundred or whatever the deposit would be worth it in that sense.

  8. No, Shin lost the appeal and Heidemann won the bout and lost in the gold medal bout to Unkranian Shemyakina, 9-8. Karma’s a bitch.

    Because fencing is a sport that can be very dependent on the subjective determinations of the ref, the appeal was denied based upon the ref’s call at the piste and lack of any clear basis to conclude that time had, in fact, expired. In fencing, we accept that bad calls happen sometimes. It’s just really unforunate that it happened at the Olympics in this way.

  9. shg, thanks for the tutorial. without it, i wouldn’t have a clue. did shin win the appeal?

  10. I worked for a fencing company one summer in my youth, if I had sat down in protest for an hour They would have Fired my A**.

    So I guess the adage good fencers make good neighbors is False? !!
    …..Who knew.!

  11. There is only one good reason for needing cash to protest…so that teams don’t constantly protest everything. But that’s ridiculous. Does the money get returned? Are they paying for consideration? Greedy.

    My brother did some fencing in college. I like to think it was all the stick fights we had in the woods as kids that made him good…

  12. In defense of the sport, a bit of background about what appears in the video seems in order. What you see in the video isn’t typical of epee fencing, but rather a last second “Hail Mary” fleche. Epee fencing is otherwise quite graceful and deliberative.

    The direct elimination bout consists of three period of three minutes each, with a winner at 15 touches. If no fencer reaches 15 touches in that time, they go into a one minute sudden death overtime. One of the fencers is arbitrarily awarded “priority,” which means that if neither fencer gets a single touch, the fencer with priority wins at the end of overtime.

    Unlike swimming or sprinting, fencing is timed by the second, rather than the 10th or 100th of a second. In this bout, they were down to 1 second and Shin had priority, meaning she would win if Heidemann didn’t get a single touch. Heidemann had nothing to lose, so she went for the Hail Mary fleche. Shin defended by trying to get a double touch while time ran out.

    So with one second to go, there was the first double touch, with no time coming off the clock. Then a second double touch, and if you look closely (the video has been edited) you can see the clock tick to zero after the halt. Because it was after the halt, the ref had the timekeeper put one second back on the clock, and you can see it go from zero to one. The problem is that the actual time remaining at that point was more a fraction of a second, but the clock can only register seconds, not fractions.

    Then the final touch, a single by Heidemann, should have been after time expired, but because a full second was added back, she was not locked out by the expiration of the clock.

    In the fencing world, this was considered a fiasco, as it is universally (except for the Germans) agreed that Shin should have won the bout. Indeed, the American fencing community was outraged by the handling of the bout. In normal fencing, the ultimate decision would be made by a bout committee, who can overrule the ref, but this is the Olympics, and so different rules apply.

    But fencers know that Shin won that bout.

  13. Several corrections. First, the clock started at one second and then got stuck allowing time for the last touch to occur. Second, this came after they had put one second back on the clock. Third, if she had left the piste she would have conceded her appeal.

  14. I saw the tape of the Japanese gymnastic official with cash in his hand when they made a protest at the end of the Men’s team finals. It is a stupid rule that they need cash to make their protest, even if the protest is a stupid one.

  15. Now, if we could only decipher Korean we’d be able to know if they sent a slang tweet…….

  16. Maybe I have been spoiled by too many sword fights in movies but I am always surprised at who inelegant fencing looks. The matches are a hot mess, no flow or grace. Also, way too many points end up in the hands of judges. Really not that fun to watch.

  17. Its all about the money for those IOC thugs, isn’t it? You better be careful prof – they may even sue you for showing clips and using the word “Olympics” in a sentence without paying the.

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