China claim women's team epee gold at Olympics
China fought off early jitters and caution to grind down South Korea to take gold in the women's team epee final.
In a flurry of touches by world number one Sun Yujie, third seeded China took the final margin of victory to 14 points to win by a score or 39-25 over the eighth seeds.
"The gold medal is from all four of us. We all worked hard in this team effort," Yujie said. The Chinese team is coached by a Frenchman, Daniel Levavasseur.
South Korea's team, having upset the top seeds and reigning world champions Romania in the first round, jumped to an early lead on China but then ran out of gas in the closing rounds.
The silver medal helped soothe some of the pain for South Korea's Shin A Lam who lost her bid for individual epee gold after the official clock was reset in error, giving her opponent time to launch one last successful attack to win.
"I am just really happy. I couldn't get a medal in the individual but to get one in the team, just feels wonderful," Shin said, adding that she would try to forget about the controversy.
Her 90-minute protest created one of the most indelible images of the games as the 25-year-old athlete sat alone on the piste, distraught by the turn of events and unable to leave the field of play until the appeal process ran its course.
Fencing's governing body, the Federation Internationale d'Escrime (FIE), offered Shin a consolation medal but she is still uncertain if she will accept.
"I don't understand why they want to give it to me," Shin said.
South Korea, a relative newcomer to the top ranks of fencing, is tied for first in the fencing medals table with perennial powerhouse Italy at six each.
"We hoped but we never imagined these things. We are so very very happy to get these great results," said South Korean coach Shim Jaesung.
China are third in the fencing medals count with three.
Heidemann's individual epee silver is Germany's only fencing medal.
The US fencing team's medal drought in London was ended by the women's epee squad with a sudden death victory over arch rival Russia by a score of 31 to 30.
Russia's epee team, ranked second in the world, grew frustrated and tentative as the US team traded touches, giving no ground in the fight.
"It's the Olympics. It means a lot. Usually they beat us, beat us badly, so they just weren't attacking us as normal," said Courtney Hurley. Hurley shares the bronze with her team mate and sister Kelley, who put off medical school plans to qualify for her second Olympics.
In epee, when the score is tied at the end of regulation, one minute is put on the clock with winner take all on the next touch. In addition, one fencer is randomly assigned what is called 'priority.' If time runs out with no score the priority holder wins. In this case the priority was with the United States, meaning Russia's Anna Sivkova was forced to attack.
"There were tactics involved. Every time she attacked she hit me... And every time I attacked her I got her. So I knew I had to attack, so I just decided to do it right away instead of waiting around," said Courtney Hurley.