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South Korean fencer stages sit-down protest of controversial loss

By Jerry Hinnen | Staff Writer
South Korean fencer Shin Lam sits on the fencing piste while officials hear a Korean appeal over her controversial loss in the invididual epee semifinals. (Getty Images)

In what's emerged as one of the biggest controversies of the Olympics, South Korean fencer Shin Lam remained on the piste for around an hour after she lost in highly controversial circumstances in the individual epee semifinals.

Shin had been locked in the sudden death period of her match against German No. 1 Britta Heidemann, one on which Heidemann was required to score a point or Shin would advance to the gold medal finals. The clock reportedly ran out on Heidemann, only for a timing error to reset the clock from zero to one second. When play resumed, Heidemann's last-gasp attack scored for the win.

Shin's coach Shim Jaesung launched a furious appeal during which Shin burst into tears and remained on the fencing piste. As officials conferred, an announcement told spectators that Shin would be acknowledging her defeat if she left the piste, leaving her there as the appeal continued.

After apporoximately half an hour, Heidemann was declared the winner. But Shin remained where she was as the appeal dragged on, and another announcement was made that -- incredibly -- the Koreans would have to provide a financial deposit for their appeal to be heard.

Eventually Olympics officials appeared to escort the distraught Shin off the piste:

After being hugged and consoled by her coach following her departure and the ruling in favor of Heidemann, Shin still had to compete in the bronze medal match. She lost to China's Sun Yujie, 15-11, and finished off the podium.

Heidemann would lose the gold-medal match 9-8 to Ukranian Yana Shemyakina.

The images of Shin's protest will remind many of the iconic sit-down protest of Korean boxer Byun Jong-il, who remained in the boxing ring for 45 minutes after losing by judges' decision at the 1988 Seoul Games.

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