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Finally, a medal for South Korean fencer

Saturday - 8/4/2012, 5:52pm  ET

By ERIC WILLEMSEN
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - The fencer who wept on the competition strip at the London Olympics finally got a medal.

Shin A-lam of South Korea earned a silver Saturday in the women's epee team competition. As she touched the medal with both hands, she said: "I felt like crying again on the podium."

"I am really happy now," Shin said. "My teammates and people back in Korea gave me wonderful support this week."

Shin lost a disputed individual semifinal Monday against Britta Heidemann of Germany, who scored the decisive point after judges put a second back on the clock. South Korea claimed the match should have been over.

Judges took an hour to consider the appeal before rejecting it, and Shin awkwardly had to stay on the fencing strip or she would have lost by rule. She cried before a crowd of 8,000.

Of the failed appeal earlier in the week, Shin said: "There was one second left, so after two attacks, I though I had won it. The following days I have been trying to forget it. It wasn't easy."

In the final, Shin and teammates Choi In-jeong and Jung Hyo-jung led 7-4 but lost their way. China defeated South Korea 39-25 for the gold medal. Li Na, Luo Xiaojuan, Sun Yujie and Xu Anqi earned China its second fencing gold of the games.

"We all four deserved this. It was really teamwork," said Li, the world epee champion. "We believed in ourselves. We always thought we were going to win the gold."

The silver was the sixth fencing medal for South Korea at these games, tied with Italy for most.

The United States edged Russia 31-30 in extra time to take bronze for its first fencing medal in London. After six medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, the United States was still empty-handed going into the last day of fencing in London.

Not that it was a huge issue within the team, Courtney Hurley said.

"We didn't think about that at all," she said. "And now bronze _ it's unreal. It hasn't sunk in yet."

The Americans fought a tense battle against higher-ranked Russia. They dropped behind 15-11 after four of nine bouts but were ahead 27-25 with just the last bout remaining.

Hurley lost that bout 5-3 against Anna Sivkova, but with the score tied at 30-30, Hurley grabbed her last chance in extra time.

She ran screaming toward her teammates _ her sister Kelley Hurley, Maya Lawrence and Susie Scanlon _ at the back of the strip. The referee called her back because rules say she had to salute her opponent with her epee before leaving the strip.

"We went into the match thinking: Do you believe in miracles?" Courtney Hurley said. "We've beaten them once in the World Cup, but lately we got our butt kicked by them. I didn't expect much out of this bout, but they were scared. This is the Olympics, so they had much more pressure than usual."

Kelley Hurley added that "the only goal for the day was to not get creamed by Russia."

"I can't believe how well it all came together," she said. "It's like a dream come true. It's like it's not happening. It's the best moment of my life so far. We have a medal. It's awesome."


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)