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2012 Summer OlympicsMedia MonsterSports & PoliticsTabloid FodderWeird But True

That South Korean Fencer Got Screwed Because… The Timekeeper Was A 15-Year-Old Volunteer? (UPDATE)

UPDATE: According to an email received from the London Olympics’ organizing committee, “We do not have 15 year old time keepers. All time keepers are specialists who act under the direction of a referee.” So… there’s that.

The original post is below.

By now, you probably already know how South Korean fencer Shin A-Lam got screwed out of a medal at the 2012 London Olympics. If not, know that it was because of an inexplicable timing error. Well, a timing error that seemed inexplicable until this detail emerged:

The Korean team believes the situation resulted from poor management by the referee and timekeeper. Kim Chang-gon, an FIE referee, said, “I checked after the game that it was a 15-year-old British volunteer girl who was doing the timekeeping.”

So, yeah, “a 15-year-old British volunteer girl” was in charge of a task that determined who got a shot at an Olympic gold medal. Brilliant staffing, here. When I was 15, I didn’t even know how to tell time.

The Chosun Ilbo expanded on the bullshittiness.

In fencing, the timekeeper stops and starts the clock when the referee makes the “allez (go)” and “halt (stop)” sign. When there is a hit, the clock is stopped automatically by an electronic device.

An experienced timekeeper would press the button at the same time as referee’s hand sign, but inexperienced timekeepers sometimes press the button too early or too late.

Austrian referee Barbara Csar turned the clock back to one second when it lapsed to zero after the end of the second out of three plays that took place with one second remaining. It remains unclear why.

Kim said, “It’s possible that the referee did it because she thought the timekeeper had pressed the button before she started the second play.”

The Korean delegation protested, and when that was not accepted, they submitted an official written appeal. But after an hour of deliberation, the FIE gave the same response, saying that there is nothing it could do because the rules dictates that the referee decides the time by looking at the clock on the screen.

So, fencing rules are stupid. But this could have all been prevented if someone experienced was doing an important job at the OLYMPICS. Yes, a novel concept, Mr. Timekeeper Hirer.

Imagine if a 15-year-old was in charge of keeping time at the Super Bowl? He/she’d probably be killed if there was even a whiff of a mistake being made. Fortunately, nobody cares enough about fencing to lash out at this poor girl. Instead, we can properly direct our anger at whomever the idiot was that thought it was a good idea to hire her.

Shin got a “special” consolation medal from the International Fencing Federation (FIE), but c’mon; it’s not the same. They might as well have given her a Burger King birthday crown. I mean, at least people have heard of those. And they’ll respect the shit out of you for wearing that majestic diadem.

[The Chosun Ilbo]

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.kim.54922 James Kim

    R U Effing kidding me? A 15 yr old volunteer?

  • Kedwards0408

    Matt, we all age differently.  You say you couldn’t tell time at age 15. Well my budding sports journalist, some of us were a little more intelligent and mature at that age.  When I was 15 I spent a summer working as a counselors aid with mentally handicapped children.  I had many responsibilities, including some that I did all by myself.
    All kidding aside, I think the person you should asking wtf?, is the referee.  I am sure the 15yr old girl handled watching a hand and pushing a button just fine.

  • Edd

    don’t worry dale it’s ok

  • Sonya

    poo poo crap bullshit

  • Stacy

    thats not nice

  • Sonya

    what ever idoit

  • guest

    My common sense tells me that you just cannot sqeeze in  three separate plays in one second.  Forget the time it take to exucute three plays. Just the reaction time alone after each “allez” will be more than a second. What good is it to have sophisticated vedeo eqipments and technical staff, if all you can say is ”Welll, the referee say so and that’s final.”


  • 111ddger

    Kedwards your retarded shut up stop talking in your life your a joke

  • yayo

    lol you can’t spell ‘idiot’, idiot.

  • Yowassupeh

    Well, considering he probably wouldn’t use “your” when it should be “you’re”, I think he should be talking and you shouldn’t. Good day.

  • Crystalplanet777

    They act like they just picked some 15 year old off the street that day and stuck her in front of the clock control.  She obviously trained for this along with the other thousands of volunteers at the games who do this stuff.
    Crap happens, even in the olympics.  The freaking South Koreans are some of the most classless drama queens when it comes to competitive sports.  Hope she had a great cry.

  • stillsurprisedbyracistcomments

     you’re a bit of an offensive little rodent, aren’t you?

  • i’m15andresponsible

     this year’s olympics are pro.

  • Santa2-spy

    Honestly, the majority of you retards posting here are just trying to be witty and correct minor grammar/spelling errors…. Bravo, you’ve now made yourself look like an incompetent and incoherent asshole. The medal really should belong to the Koreans. There was such BS when it came to the last second call… Literally last second, after all, one-second fencing time must be like a 1:3 ratio in comparison with normal passage of time. Just know, when the olympics occur in Korea, there will be vendetta to be served, it it will be done so justifiably and wholly. 

    Correct my grammar and spelling so you can feel better about yourselves. Oh, and have fun going to your prestigious community colleges, oh wait, I mean your “vastly experienced and wholesome life”.

  • fhlow

    i like your point then, yet generally, all 15 year olds are pretty much the same.

    alright here’s a good question. say your wife has a brain tumor. you sent her to the hospital for surgery. the hospital recommends you a 15 years old surgeon. would you agree?

  • fhlow

    man. i bet those assholes who bashed the girl who cried because she’s lost her last shot for olympic gold medal (she’s 26 this year already, which means she can’t take part in the next olympic cuz she’s too old).. are probably the same assholes who cried like a faggot when their girlfriends left them.

    so much hate. geez.

  • Jo

    Well she should’ve done her job properly? Or they should’ve effing trained her properly if she she was really like a normal girl shouldn’t they? As an athlete she spent so many years on practicing just for that moment and when you lose after all that because of a bad time keeping not because of lack of skills. That sucks arse. Like a lot. And as a Korean, this comment seemed plain rude. Whether Koreans are drama queens or not I’ll put it “passionate” more likely.

  • Anonymous

    so the timekeeper is a minor, and the judges and referee are what – retarted?   racist perhaps? after all the one who pointed out at the time is an austrian where the famous german racist was born!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000991716492 John Duong

    That was fixed. Who the hell hires a 15 year old to ref in the olympics??????? The medals clearly goes to the Koreans. What’s next a 10 year old???????????

  • Ddog

    Am I missing something? I know the girl was 15 and all, but the clock went to zero. It was the referee that added the second back on.


    did you just compare time keeping to brain surgery. 

    Irrelevant comparison. 

  • Gunner

    Ahaha crystal you don’t do much in life do you? Us other people work hard towards a goal, and if a golden chance is taken away because of a stupid mistake that SHOULD NOT happen, then we’re going to be pissed. Considering it appears you’ve never had to do something significant in your life, you don’t know what its like. So go on saying “crap happens”. Oh the world just got nuked? “Crap happens”

    Haha its what retards love to say cause they can’t understand.

  • Gunner

    Not really EGMAP, perhaps you just don’t understand what comparisons are supposed to be.

    A comparison like that given by fhlow demonstrates whether important responsibilities should be given to 15 years olds. Sure, brain surgery is more serious but the point is handling how responsibilities are given out.

    Still the fault lies with the referee.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001491683210 David Lee

    Yes, the timer stayed on :01 for more than a second.

  • WannieTheSane

    Timekeeper lesson: “When the referee’s hand looks like this, push the button”

    Surgeon lesson: 7 years of medical school, residency, etc…

    No, they are not valid comparisons at all.  EGMAP understands what comparisons are supposed to do, however s/he also understands logic and what that is supposed to do. 

  • Anonymous

     I guess Romney was right . . . . “Great” Britain was NOT quite ready for prime time AND the Olympics.

  • Anonymous

     ”Great” Britain along with France are and have been bastions of the fencing world for hundreds of years.
    Don’t tell me they couldn’t get a “seasoned veteran” of the sport to run the clock! In fact, if they had to PAY for an expert in the sport DO IT!!!
    Has anyone noticed that the swimming events are timed to the hundredths of  a second???

  • William

    Wow, what a completely ignorant statement.

  • Anonymous

    ok as a Brit, can I point out that if her birthday is this month then she has already left school if not then she leaves compusory school in 9 months so guess what she already half an adult, if your pop culture is to be believe it would be like the American College Kid  doing it

  • jun

    jesus christ are people still correcting other people’s spellings on the internet. who the fuck cares, u know what he meant and he for fucks sake knows the difference between your and you’re. 

  • guest

    no egmap clearly does not understand what it means to compare, and you dont either. and clearly the timekeeper lesson wasn’t sufficient enough to prevent a major screw up. you need professionals for a reason, especially for events such as the Olympics

  • Bellaviva

    um, some of the Olympic gold medalists were 15. They only upped the gymnastics age to 16 in 1997. (and not because of competence, but safety issues.)  I think you are exaggerating the abilities (or lack thereof) of 15 year-olds. Just because you were a bit of an idiot  at that age (just guessing by your current inability to be a “journalist” due to your profane mouth. ) So, probably not a great comparison. Anyway, it is too bad for the fencer, but the referee, I’m sure, knew what they were doing. Can’t we just take things in life, or must we have such poor sportsmanship. 

  • Junk

    that is so wrong to blame 15yrs-old girl when it is not the case. she did a great job. if you care, go back and listen to all the timer beep; it’s almost always immediately after the allez call.

    the illusion of a sec lasting longer is because heidemann lunges at pret instead of properly waiting for allez. by the time allez is called she’s already halfway (it’s amazing how Shin manages to counter with such disadvantage) and even closer by the time the timekeeper pushes the button (very in sync with refs hand signal). so the pattern is allez, beep, beep beep; only a slight spacing in between them. the reason the clock ran out is because the ref asked for time and wondered if it was malfunctioning. which leads me to think that , the ref wondered why the time didn’t expire… anyway, to prove it’s working, the girl pushed the button and because it was never broken, it ran out. now, the ref that had some doubt that time should’ve ran out, decides to add one full sec; this probably should not have happened. as the fencing federation said, the ref has total control of the time. if she thought the time should’ve ran out, she should’ve just called the match as she has that authority.

    again, if heidemann didn’t cheat and lunge before the allez, none of this would’ve happened as two retries would’ve expired the time. but because the former gold medalist decided to throw away the ‘spirit’ of olympics and rely on every dirty trick possible, she managed to lunge yet again on the final sec before the call, giving her enough time to do a compound attack for the kill. and she proved her dirtiness even as a person when she called a winner. instead of offering Shin a consoling hug and leaving the arena quietly with an occasional wave of a hand and a bow toward the audience, she took the high-road of screaming, yelling and fist pumping.

  • Kenta

    I agree that people age differently, but to hire a 15-year-old to be the timekeeper of the greatest sporting event in the world is a whole different story. 

  • Anonymous

    Give the Brits some slack.  They’ve come a long way in 40 years.  At the 1972 gold medal basketball game it was another Brit (R. William Jones) who without any authority put 3 seconds on the clock that allowed the Soviet team to score the final basket.  In 40 years they made up 2 seconds.  Not too shabby!

  • whatzittoya

    Only South Koreans? Mate, you must a be Taiwanese.

  • Cshdw

    How can they let IOC do whatever they feel like! 

  • ambivalent

    Well, having had 2 separate business contracts broken by South Koreans, I dunno man… But I still have plenty of South Korean friends. So I don’t know what my point when I started typing this comment was.

  • Lauriekim

    You’re such an ignorant fool. Shin trained all her life for this moment- something you obviously know nothing about- and many sacrifices were made. She’s also 26 yrs old, therefore will be too old to compete in the next Olympics. To be robbed of her chances for the gold medal I’m sure her world came crashing down. She said in her interview that all she could think about was all the countless hours of practices and sacrifices she and her family made.

    For you to badmouth Koreans by calling them cry babies speaks volumes about the kind of human being you are. You were really raised poorly…

  • Standing

    Crystal, obviously, they did not pick some 15 year old off the street that day and stick her in front of the clock control – obviously.

    The controversy here is that it wasn’t done correctly and professionally. Especially in Olympics, where countries from around the world gather the compete against each other. Having a 15-year old (under-aged) and a volunteer (non-professional) run something that determines whether or not a trained professional who has been training their entire life for just this moment – seems a little cheap, doesn’t it?

    And let me give you an advice. Don’t judge and discriminate an entire country. There are classless drama queens everywhere in the world. Just because of what you said in your last few sentences, your input became useless to me. I don’t consider anything a judgemental racist has to say about this controversy.

    And to say “Hope she had a great cry” states you have issues. If you worked for one goal in your life and had that chance taken away from you – for something that wasn’t your fault, would you have gone “Oh, crap happens, even int he olympics” and move on? If you can’t understand that, then I feel sorry for you. You’re just a lazy bitch on the internet.

  • Standing

    EDIT: The controversy here is that it wasn’t done correctly and professionally. Especially in Olympics, where countries from around the world gather the compete against each other. Having a 15-year old (under-aged) and a volunteer (non-professional) run something that determines whether or not a trained professional who has been training their entire life for just this moment gets a medal at all – seems a little cheap, doesn’t it?

  • Kstreet64

     haha, yeah the “greatest sporting event in the world”

    bottom line…it’s fencing…who the fuck cares?!?!?!?!

  • Kstreet64

     As an “athlete” she spent “so many years” …on something as dumb as fencing

  • Kstreet64

     pretty sure we’re talking about fencing not gymnastics, so 30 really isn’t too old to compete in the next olympics

  • Lmiller

    What’s even sadder is that they would not let her win because they were so uptight about the Rules. Then, in badminton, players weren’t playing at their level, and were disqualified. It’s terrible to not play at your level, but, still, they didn’t break any explicit rules, but were still disqualified.

    In one sport, fencing, the officials could not break any rules in place to allow someone who would have won if not for incompetent officials to move on to the next round.

    In the other sport, badminton, the officials stepped out of any guidebook and disqualified 8 players who were playing within the rules of the game.

    To me, this is extremely puzzling and says to me that an official has the ability to choose the winner.

  • LondonPitts

    I’m so disappointed with the London Olympics this year. Too many mistakes and unfairness. Clock getting stuck, dumb judges and a 15 year old timer. Come on London! What an embarrassment. Right at that moment the judges knew they were wrong but, continue on like nothing happened. I wondered if they all took a cut from  the South Korea money that was put up to dispute the ruling. Plus, one of the judges was a friend of the German competitor. To add injury to Shin A Lam they offer her a special medal. What a load of crap. All she wants is a official apology. I probably won’t be as excited about the Olympics anymore. London really ruined it for me. An hourglass would have been a better timer. London is on top with the worst Olympic ever.

  • oleh

    isn’t the olympics supposed to have professionals? why find a volunteer. wasn’t there anyone left? didn’t they all take an oath to be fair. what the heck happened. did we spend all our money on the lack of security? the london newspaper isn’t even reporting this controversy. robbing a medal from an athlete, GB cyclist pretending to fall to restart a match, racist tweets, disqualification, losing on purpose, unfair judging, overturning a ruling etc etc. drama drama drama

  • July1090@gmail.com

    Wow!! Three times in seconds, probably she is a fucking spiderman or betman. Holy crap fucking lundon olympic.

  • Autumn

    Give them some slack?! This woman put 4 or more years of training in the hands of a 15 yr old volunteer girl. Jones was actually important in the sport and ordered the refs to add seconds after he saw the malfunction but later stated he had no right to do so during the game. This was simply human error and airheadedness. No respectful adult would put important decisions like this in the hands of a 15 yr old period

  • Walks876

    How stupid are you that you can’t tell time at 15?

  • Anonymous

    Amazing that people believe that a 15 year old was in charge, so gullible. Just because you read something on the internet …

  • Anonymous

     Only a fool would believe that

  • http://www.facebook.com/victorpng Victor Ng

    Well, spelling is important because it separates the terminally stupid from those of us with an education.

  • retards everywhere

    yeah fuck you too

  • Ladida

    You’re an idiot..1) it’s a comparison to show that the timekeeper’s job is closely as important as a surgeon for the OLYMPIC GAMES 2) a timekeeper’s job is just as important as a surgeon in this sense because errors like this can cause a represented Country their medal (and that’s a pretty big deal for every single country that is competing) no it doesn’t save lives like surgery but it sure as hell can break a trust between countries. So in short his comparison is accurate, and they definitely need someone with more experience to take job as a timekeeper and not a 15year old. 

  • Ladida

    Fencers care and THEIR ENTIRE COUNTRY CARE you dumb ass

  • Ladida

    Sorry to say, but to accept a medal that you know is wrongfully earned, THAT’S CLASSLESS, and sorry to say but to be chosen to represent your country in the Olympics and get your medal (that by all means shows great skill to earn) taken away by a flawed system is EXTREMELY painful. So before you say they are “classless drama queens” try and get chosen to represent your country and then get your medal taken away by a single second where nations upon nations is watching, then you can decide who’s classless then, oh wait you can’t….. That’s why you’re on here trying to spit bullshit when you can’t do jack shit for your country and call someone a drama queen for it. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Venus-Dooly/1591350202 Venus Dooly

    fencing may be dumb to you, but to others something like soccer may be dumb.

  • James March

    Switch on irony detector dude

  • http://www.facebook.com/luatphamq Chris Pham

    It’s so freaking obvious that the ref. favored the german. As you’ve said and I’ve watched it the german false started several times, but the ref. didn’t yellow card  her at all, is she blind or something? Also the ref. should’ve known better that it’s impossible to squeeze in 3 seperate attacks in one second. I saw the korean fencer gave a hand signal to the ref. and judges, after the second attack, to indicate that time has expired and it should’ve. But the dumb racist judge just ignored her instead she put a full second back on the clock. During the appeal process, the damn ref. repeatedly signaled the victory awarded to the german at least a couple times as if she wanted to make it a done deal so the Korean team cannot appeal. The dirty german girl knew it deep inside that she’d lost, that’s why left the stage without saying a word to her opponent. It shows that not only is she a cheater ( intentionally false started several times), but also a selfish person with no class.


    I was just pondering, on another thread, why we, as consumers, allow this comedy of errors to continue. After reading most of these comments, I’ve discovered it isn’t about the sports. It’s about the “bitching.” You get what you pay for. Want better Games? Quit supporting the present fiasco.

  • Anonymous

    You should be asking… why is an Austrian be allowed to officiate a match when Germans are involved?

  • Anonymous

    The question here is experience…. apparently a 15 year old doesn’t have enough experience to keep the time for such an important match. A 15 year old knows enough to keep time, but doesn’t have enough experience to manage time for fencing semi-final. We can all drive… but not many can qualify to drive in Formula One…. in all the football leagues, even the time keepers are trained. How difficult is it to keep time for a football match? Not difficult, but it can become difficult during controversies…. when can you stop the match? When do you need to stop or start the clock? It’s an important thing at the NBA….. yes… even the “normal” matches, and in all college games, times are kept by trained persons. Unless the 15 year old has enough experience in fencing, and started doing time keeping for fencing for at least 3 years (which means she has to start this at 12)… unlikely…. 

    Now, if you cannot accept an untrained time keeper at all NBA and College Basketball matches, why can you accept an untrained time keeper at the Olympics? Especially when it’s a Semi-final match?

  • Anonymous

    You mean I can officiate a football game? Or I can keep time during the superbowl? Do they allow it? I’m sure they’d like to have me do that every year… I sure want to try screwing up the Patriots!

  • Joe

    There was a 15 year old in charge of starting and stopping the timer; this fact is not disputed by anyone but you, moron.

  • Pugiron

    The Korean fencer should get to stab the time keeper to death, 15 or not.

  • Pugiron

    All you are doing is bitching, you retarded moron.  No wonder your mother hated you your whole life.

  • Johnenglish510

    Generally accepted by the world that London has staged the best olympics ever. Pity a few idiots on here don’t believe it.

  • Anonymous

    Who said she was untrained. Your rant is irrelevant.

  • Anonymous

    A time keeper is NOW A REF? Are you serious. The girl did what she was told. She had no control over the REF’s decision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Jones/100000163260052 Eric Jones

    You are an idiot. I hope you are screwed daily by the incompetence of others (as opposed to all the times your own stupidity screws you over in life.) Die in a fire you start yourself by your own idiocy.

  • Bob

    How quaint, testy1. You might have just said, “sticks and stones..”. Such a village idiot response. You are irrelevant. lol

  • Anonymous

    How about calling the kettle black? This is a classic.
    An article referring to bad timing and here you come 7 months later! ha ha ha ho ha ha

  • cindy6221

    This is a good one. Thanks.

  • cindy6221

    That’s your think. You have not to slander this one.

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