Fencing’s Never-Ending Second | Strangest Moments

Fencing’s Never-Ending Second | Strangest Moments

Fencing is a noble pursuit. For a sport that has its roots
in medieval score-settling, controversy is surprisingly
rare. It has featured at
every Summer Olympic Games since the birth of the modern
Olympic movement in 1896. During those years, fencing has
stayed largely out of the spotlight. As a minority sport where
honour and respect are key, scandal is practically
unheard of. That all changed in 2012. Before we get to all that, a quick guide to Olympic
fencing. Epee bouts are
the most straightforward type of fencing contest
to watch and referee. The rules are simple – the first fencer to hit
their opponent, on any part of their body,
earns a point. After each point, the fencers return to their “en garde”
positions and they go again. Whoever has the most points when time expires is the
winner. If the two fencers hit each
other at the same time, they’re both awarded a point. The exception to this rule
is when the scores are tied and the next hit
would win the match. In these circumstances, the scores remain the same
and the bout restarts. The women’s Epee semifinal in
2012 saw reigning Olympic champion
Britta Heidemann take on South Korea’s Shin
A-lam. As we just said, whoever
could land the most hits in the time available
would win the bout. But that’s not strictly true.
It isn’t quite that simple. Before a sudden-death
extra minute starts, one fencer is randomly
assigned “priority”, meaning that in the event of a
tie they’re awarded the win. Going into the extra minute
Shin A-lam had priority, so a draw would be enough for her to progress to the
final. It was cagey. As they entered the extra
minute, the scores were locked
at 5-5. The priority rule meant that the onus was on Heidemann
to attack. Shin was in control. With 24 seconds remaining, Heidemann went on the
offensive. In the space of 20 seconds,
she registered five hits. Unfortunately for her, each one was successfully
countered by Shin, resulting in
a series of double hits, none of which registered as
points. Time was running out. With one second on the clock,
it was do-or-die for Heidemann. Another attempt failed. She tried again. No luck. The official clock was still
showing one second. She tried again. Shin forced another double hit. Incredibly, the clock
still displayed one second. The fencing clock ticks down in increments of one full
second. So whether there’s one
thousandth of a second remaining
or a full second remaining, the clock will display one
second. But after three Heidemann
attacks, Shin knew that there could only
be fractions of a second left. Victory was in sight. The referee asked the
timekeeper to ensure that the
clock was correct. The timekeeper misinterpreted
this instruction, and started the clock,
which immediately hit zero. The crowd thought it was all
over, and Shin appeared to have
won. But the bout hadn’t
officially restarted, so the elapsed time didn’t
count. It was up to the referee
to put time back on the clock. The smallest number that could
go on the clock was a full second. REFEREE: En garde, s’il vous
plait. It was inaccurate,
but she had no choice. Heidemann had another chance,
and she had time to play with. Shin was distraught. COACH: One second! Her coach was furious, but his protests fell on deaf
ears. It meant there would be
another chance for Heidemann, who wasn’t ready to give up
her title of Olympic Champion. REFEREE: En garde. Allez. It was a clean hit as time
expired. Heartbreak for Shin. The Koreans launched an appeal. According to fencing rules, Shin A-lam could not leave the
piste while the officials
analysed the appeal. She waited. And waited… And the winner of
the second semifinal, representing Germany, Britta Heidemann. Even after the official
appeal was rejected, she remained on the piste in
tears, eventually being escorted off
by officials from the International Fencing
Federation. In total, she was there
for 70 heart-breaking minutes. The image of Shin sat alone
on the piste weeping uncontrollably became an iconic moment
of the 2012 Olympic Games. And the fans inside
the Excel Arena left knowing that they had witnessed a bizarre slice of
Olympic Games history.

100 Replies to “Fencing’s Never-Ending Second | Strangest Moments”

  1. Fact that Heidemann and Her team didn't protest the clock's change during the match tells a lot about fair-play. Heidemann doesn't deserve this medal. If I could get a medal this way…I will refuse to get it. I couldn't look at it being proud. Shame.

  2. Heidemann shouldn't have made a move and give her the win out of fairness. I am german and It hurts me to see that

  3. For those who didn't understand the Korea Vs Germany fencing

    In fencing ,sudden death of a minute is given when there is a draw so Korea was given priority by random. Germany had to win a point where Korea just had to keep the draw by counter attacks,Korea countered 5 attacks from Germany. With 0.2 seconds left on the clock,a referee let the time run by accident and it reached zero so Korea thought they won but they didn't. The officials decided to continue but instead of giving Korea 0.2 seconds,they gave Korea a full second which is enough time for multiple attacks,Korea could have won but the extra miliseconds gave Germany enough time to get a hit ,this means Germany would win. Korea gave a appeal which was rejected .Shin the Korea fencer was devastated at remained there for 70 mins crying

  4. So what your telling me in fencing if you have priority and get lucky and have it every game I can just play aggressive and hit the person and keep it a tie and win

  5. Everyone is talking about the clock they should talk about the tie rule, that is bull on someone is randomly given priority

  6. At the WCs in Budapest, clocks were designed to measure tenths of a second if there were less than 60 seconds left. This rule change must have been induced by this very sad case.

  7. Bold of you to make a video explaining exactly how you fucked over an athlete's entire career and sound proud about it.

  8. cool, so the olympics robbed a Korean athlete and humiliated her because they didn't have competent timekeepers or a clock that was up to scratch.

  9. they can give the german girl 1 full second but why don't they stop the clock @0.8 second?
    this sport has so many scandals and it doesn't deserve to be in the Olympic

  10. Buhu laming your opponent with double hits did not work. Fencers like that are the worst and fate intervened to prevent such an unworthy champion.

  11. the clock is one thing yeah but this stupid priority rule would have cost Heidemann a win at the olimpycs.
    She was the better fencer in this fight if she had not won I would be pissed off.

  12. At the outset I am as outraged as anyone. But I am also thinking these are the semi finals, and that if these competitors are this close at the end, the victor may well be chance, anyway.

  13. So really Shin won. But she didn't get the gold medal. Don't worry Shin, YOU know that YOU really won. And the other girl should have hanged her head in shame for cheering such a victory.

  14. So why not attempt to just keep stopping the clock until you got close to the original time? It's not impossible considering how the they easily stopped the clock repeatedly throughout the match.

  15. I’ve heard of competitors believing they were “robbed of the win,” but this is shockingly disgraceful. Image of a sobbing, heartbroken athlete aside, Shin was/is the clear winner of this match. Everyone knows “life’s not fair” and all the other similar platitudes that people say when they’re trying to justify something or cheer you up, but the Olympics are supposed to be the be-all, end-all and ultimate epitome of fairness within competition. There definitely were actions well within the realm of human control that could have/should have been taken and there will never be an adequate excuse as to why they weren’t. (Personally, what aggravated me the most was the refusal to even let her coach speak.) This whole situation reeks of laziness and favoritism. So shameful.

  16. They did that Korean girl dirty…. why bother investing all that time and energy into going to the Olympics when there's the chance to get cheated like that?

  17. Considering there were three exchanges already in less than one second there was clearly enough time for the last exchange. Even with 1/5th a second that was enough time for one more attack. The German won fare and square. The last exchange would have happened regardless. You could tell the German was in the fight until the end While the other girl was full of anxiety.

  18. Let's just called it a draw
    Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life and in this situation almost doesn't count ??

  19. So Shin experienced "fairness". In a fair match, 'priority' wouldn't exist and extra time would be added until somebody scored first. That's exactly what happened here, albeit by accident. What kind of nonsense is priority??? Might as well draw the winner out of a hat!

  20. Even though they set it to 1 second…if they stopped the clock when she hit her and it was above 0.8 she'd have won if it was below 0.8 she loses. Priority rule or not its not fair to add more time to a round, especially in the olympics, just because you messed up what clock you got.

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