1. The Stakes:
Germany’s Britta Heidemann and South Korea’s Shin A Lam had already fought to a draw in regulation. Whichever fencer got a touch next would move on to the gold medal round of the Women’s Individual Epeé. There was one second left on the clock in the extra frame.
2. The Moment:
3. The Complaint:
The clock never started! So Heidemann had more than one second to land the winning touch. At the very least, whether she landed it in time was highly in doubt. The match should have continued into another round, but instead Shin was declared the loser. So South Korea’s coach went to the judges.
4. The Ruling:
Despite the clock issue, they ruled that the touch was good and that Heidemann was the victor. South Korea’s coach went off to file a formal appeal.
5. The Waiting:
And Shin A Lam, now in tears, refused to live the piste (the platform that they fence on). In fencing, leaving the piste means that you have officially accepted the judges’ ruling. And seeing as the clock didn’t start, and she should still have a shot at gold, she sat down. It’s the filibuster of fencing.
And waited. For 45 minutes, Shin refused to live the piste.
10. The Frustration:
Heidemann didn’t know what to do. She communicated with her coaches, but it was clear she was growing impatient. It’s hard to blame her. She had been named the winner and so had a gold medal match to prepare for, but obviously whether or not she was actually the winner was still in question.
11. The Second Ruling:
After 45 minutes, a judge came out with the ruling that the Korean appeal had been lost and that Shin had to vacate the piste. She didn’t.
12. The Stand:
Shin stood up defiant, resulting in one of the more striking images of these Olympics.
14. The Finale:
Security came out and took Shin away. The crowd gave her a standing ovation.
Shin went on to lose her bronze medal match.