Growing up, I loved watching the Olympics. It was a real family event where we would watch as many events that was broadcasted and with my dad cheering for China and me cheering for the US, many of these events were nerve-wracking.
As I grow older, the appeal of the Olympics isn’t as crazy as it was before. Maybe because I’m not invested into the athletes who are competing. I find myself cheering for different athletes, depending on how they are depicted by the media. I would have never dreamed to cheer for another country back in 1988 and 1992, but this year, I’m cheering for Team GB for soccer as some of my favorite players are playing on that team.
I’ve been following it as much as I can, even waking up to reading up on articles regarding events I have missed. This morning, I read about what happened to the South Corean fencer, Shin A Lam. She was in the semi-final of the women’s fencing competition, where winner of the match would advance and fight for gold. With one second left on the clock, all she needed to do was wait for the time to go out and she would have advanced. Apparently, because of a timing error, the clock was stuck at 1 second and her opponent, Britta Heidemann from Germany, was able to get connect with her epee and land a hit, resulting in her advancement.
The clock doesn’t move! (courtesy of buzzfeed.com)
As an athlete, you’re to trust that the people judging the event are fair. You trust that whatever they say is correct. As a viewer, you also have that kind of trust. In these competition, there are rarely second chances and each and every time, you’re expected to be as perfect as you can, hoping that your best is the overall best. If you make a mistake, your competitor will take advantage of that and your chance of gold, is over. You’d expect the judges and organizes to also be perfect.
So what if they’re not? What if they mess up and tell the victim of their error, “Sorry, we messed up? Wait another 4 years?” That’s unacceptable. After watching the replays, Heidemann made 3 moves to score that hit. It’s virtually impossible to do in 1 second. I have not seen a replay which shows an assumed clock of exactly 1 second and better yet, should show the clock at a 1.99 seconds to prove a point. MAYBE those 3 moves can be done in 1.99 seconds. If that was a case, an argument can be made Heidemann could have won it. But what if it took her more than 1.99 seconds to make those three moves?
I’m not partial to South Corea in any way and while I’ve taken a few courses in fencing, the event itself isn’t something I care particularly much about. But the fact that I know something like this has happened, it has negatively affected my feelings about the Olympics. One caveat for those who still don’t know the entire story, Shin then sat down on the piste and refused to get off. In fencing, once you leave the area, that means you are in agreement with the judging. She waited till Corea officially appealed the decision and apparently, in order to do so, had to wire the money to lodge the appeal. The whole thing took like 45 mins and eventually, they officials came out and announced that there was no appeal–the judge’s decision was final.
Shin, standing up defiant of the ruling before being escorted off by security.(from buzzfeed.com)
I’m sure right now there is some kind of investigation going on and at the moment, I’ll just wait it out. That in fact, Heidemann was able to land her hit in 1 second or even hypothetically, 1.99 seconds. However, if the investigation results in the judges to be wrong, I don’t think I can continue watching the Olympics.
This is the Olympics we’re talking about–the highest standard of athletic competition. So call me an extremist. Sure, not watching the Olympics isn’t going to affect me in bad way, but until they resolve this issue of fairness to the athletes, I cannot support it. I want them to at least acknowledge that they messed up and even though they cannot redo the whole thing over (which they should have done in the first place), that they did in fact completely took away the dream of this athlete because of their incompetence.
Click here to view the video.