UPDATE 1-Olympics-Fencing-FIE to award protesting Shin a medal

Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:58pm EDT

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(Updates with statement from FIE, recasts)

By Peter Rutherford and Daniel Bases

LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - Fencing's world governing body (FIE) said on Tuesday it had offered South Korean Shin A-lam a special medal following her controversial elimination from the Olympic epee semi-final.

"The FIE (Federation International d'Escrime) will give an FIE medal to Shin A Lam," a spokesman said.

The exact date, location and who would make the presentation have not yet been worked out yet.

"It will probably occur during the Olympics," the spokesman added, giving the first official indication that the FIE recognised there was a problem with their timing systems.

The inscription is to say: "For aspiration to win and respect of the rules."

On Monday a weeping Shin staged a one-hour protest and had to be physically escorted off the fencing piste following her loss to Germany's Britta Heidemann.

Her protest created one of these Games' more unsightly images of an athlete slumped over and distraught but forced to endure the eyes of over 7,000 spectators while sitting alone on a dramatically spot-lit piste, pristine in her white uniform.

The row erupted when two double-touches were recorded with a second to go and Shin thought she had triumphed. However, a single second was put back on the clock after some discussion.

Heidemann then unleashed a blistering surge forward, hitting Shin while also avoiding her blade.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Korean Olympic Committee President Park Yong-sung said that the FIE recognised there were issues with their timekeeping and apologised to Shin.

The FIE also praised Shin for competing in the bronze medal match, which she later lost to China's Sun Yujie.

"I spoke to the FIE today. They never expected this kind of thing to happen in the last second, three attacks. Their timekeeping machine is only in seconds, not points of a second," Park said.

"Because of this system design they could not handle the situation correctly yesterday, that they admit."

An FIE statement issued earlier on Tuesday had said the technical director's decision was final. (Editing by Justin Palmer)

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