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China beats South Korea in Olympic epee team final; US takes bronze for 1st fencing medal

08/04/2012 03:38 EDT | Updated 10/04/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - South Korean fencer Shin A-lam wanted to cry again at the London Olympics, only this time it was because she finally won a medal.

The fact that it wasn't a gold hardly even seemed to matter.

China beat South Korea 39-25 Saturday to win the women's epee team event, but Shin at least found a measure of redemption after missing out on a a medal in the individual competition five days ago.

Shin lost a heavily disputed semifinal against Germany's Britta Heidemann in Monday's event when she sat crying on the strip for an hour while judges deliberated and finally rejected an appeal by her team.

"I felt like crying again on the podium," Shin said and touched her medal with both hands. "I am really happy now. My teammates and people back in Korea gave me wonderful support this week."

The United States edged Russia 31-30 in extra time to take bronze for its first fencing medal these Olympics.

In the individual event, Shin lost against Heidemann after the German scored the winning point on her fourth attempt in the final second, while Shin and the South Korean team thought the match was already over.

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

Shin and her teammates Choi In-jeong and Jung Hyo-jung led 7-4 in the final, but lost their way afterward as China took over.

It was the sixth fencing medal for South Korea at these Olympics, more than any other nation except for Italy, which also has six.

Li Na, Luo Xiaojuan, Sun Yujie and Xu Anqi earned China its second fencing gold after Lei Sheng won the men's individual foil.

"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."

After six medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, the United States were still empty-handed going into the penultimate day of fencing in London.

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

"Oh yeah," she said, sounding like someone who was being reminded of something she had tried to forget. "We didn't think about that at all. 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 11-15 after four of the nine bouts but were 27-25 ahead with just the final one 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 piste. However, the referee had to call her back as rules dictate 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."

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