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Fencing at the 2012 London Summer Games:

Women's Épée, Individual

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Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): North Greenwich Arena, Greenwich, London
Date Started: July 30, 2012
Date Finished: July 30, 2012
Format: Single-elimination tournament.

Gold: UKR Yana Shemiakina
Silver: GER Britta Heidemann
Bronze: CHN Sun Yujie


The seedings expected the event to deliver an all-Chinese final. This would be a repeat of the 2011 World Championship final where teenager [Sun Yujie] had defeated her vastly more experienced teammate [Li Na]. Things did not go to plan although not perhaps in the wild, erratic manner of the men’s event. Li Na was despatched by [Britta Heidemann] in the round of 16 and when the dust settled only Sun of the top 10 seeds remained in contention at the semi-final stage.

The first semi-final saw a monumental upset when [Yana Shemyakina] fought a brilliant tactical fight to eliminate Sun Yujie but even this was overshadowed by the controversial finish to the other semi. Heidemann and Korea’s [Shin A-Lam] fought a low scoring, cagey bout which was tied at 5-all as time began to run out. What happened next is a source of great controversy and has never entirely been explained in its entirety. What appears to have happened is this; the two women score simultaneous hits which nullified each other’s score but brought the clock down to one second.

They quickly attacked again and once more scored simultaneously but the clock did not move.

In top level fencing the referee’s duties are separated from that of the timekeeper and the timekeeper presses a button to start the clock only after the call of “Allez!” from the referee.

If the timekeeper is slow in pressing the button the electronic system can register a hit in a fraction of a section.

At 0:01, Heidemann anticipates the call and begins her attack early, with another double hit as the result. There is only a tiny fraction of a second between the time starting when the timekeeper presses the button and stopping automatically when Heidemann’s point is depressed. As a result, the time still shows 0:01. The two restart and, amazingly, the same scenario occurs once more with a double hit and no time taken off the clock. What now seems to happen is that the timekeeper mistakenly restarts the clock and time runs out. Since the clock has been running without the two fencers in action it is obvious that an error has occurred so the referee orders the countdown clock to be reset to 0:01. Heidemann is again quick off the mark but this time she clearly scores a hit and seemingly earns her place in the final. As a distraught Shin begins sobbing the Korean coach quickly launches an appeal against the decision. After viewing television replays the decision is upheld but the Korean coach orders Shin to stay on the platform until a further appeal to the FIE is considered. Shin waits for an hour before being gently escorted away when the second appeal is also rejected

The written appeal read as follows (sic):

“Dear DT Members, I can’t agree the decision of the referee, because it rested 1 second and there were 3 times coup double and the time always rests 1 second and they fixed time because the

time passed and 1 second rest. German fencer attempt by fente and remise but one second rests still. It can’t be possible during 1 second 4 actions. Who can believe this situation? I want fix this situation calculating time. Korean team cannot accept this situation.”

Shin would later face more heartbreak when she lost the bronze medal bout against Sun.

After the drama of the semi-finals the gold medal decider between [Yana Shemyakina] and [Britta Heidemann] could well have been an anti-climax. Indeed when the first period was ended prematurely by the referee because of the lack of combativity shown by the two finalists it seemed to be heading that way. Thankfully the action soon heated up with the score at the end of the final period tied with 8 points apiece. Heidemann played the aggressor in the extra time but, after two double hits, she missed with an attempted fleche and was wide open to a counter from the Ukrainian who took advantage to win gold.

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Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal S
1 Yana Shemiakina 26 Ukraine UKR Gold 11
2 Britta Heidemann 29 Germany GER Silver 17
3 Sun Yujie 19 China CHN Bronze 1
4 Sin A-Lam 25 South Korea KOR 12
5 Anca Măroiu 28 Romania ROU 3
6 Simona Gherman 27 Romania ROU 4
7 Rossella Fiamingo 21 Italy ITA 7
8 Sarra Besbes 23 Tunisia TUN 33
9 Li Na 31 China CHN 2
10 Monika Sozanska 29 Germany GER 5
11 Ana Maria Brânză-Popescu 27 Romania ROU 6
12 Choi In-Jeong 22 South Korea KOR 10
13 Laura Flessel-Colovic 40 France FRA 14
14 Tiffany Géroudet 25 Switzerland SUI 18
15 Anna Sivkova 30 Russia RUS 22
16 Maya Lawrence 32 United States USA 29
17 Luo Xiaojuan 28 China CHN 8
18 Mara Navarria 27 Italy ITA 9
19 Jeong Hyo-Jeong 28 South Korea KOR 13
20 Magdalena Piekarska 25 Poland POL 15
21 Bianca Del Carretto 26 Italy ITA 19
22 Courtney Hurley 21 United States USA 24
23 Lyubov Shutova 29 Russia RUS 25
24 Sherraine Schalm-MacKay 37 Canada CAN 26
25 Emese Szász 29 Hungary HUN 28
26 Nozomi Nokano-Sato 26 Japan JPN 36
27 Violetta Kolobova 20 Russia RUS 37
28 Corinna Lawrence 22 Great Britain GBR 43
29 Imke Duplitzer 36 Germany GER 57
30 Kseniya Panteleieva 18 Ukraine UKR 58
31 Olena Kryvytska 25 Ukraine UKR 64
32 Hsu Jo-Ting 22 Chinese Taipei TPE 146
33 Mona Abdulaziz 26 Egypt EGY 39
34 Susie Scanlan 22 United States USA 41
35 Yeung Chui Ling 29 Hong Kong HKG 47
36 María Martínez 29 Venezuela VEN 55
37 Cáterin Bravo 36 Chile CHI 66