South Korea's Shin A Lam returned to the fencing piste early today (NZ time) after protesting for one hour a controversial call that cost her the chance for gold and left her with nothing as she lost the bronze medal match to top seed Sun Yujie of China.
Shin was physically escorted off the fencing piste after more than an hour on Monday after her team protested a call that awarded a winning touch to Britta Heidemann in the women's epee semi-final.
Germany's Heidemann ran off the strip screaming with joy, but Shin did not leave the piste as this would have indicated she had accepted the decision.
Her coach has lodged a formal written complaint, but this was rejected by Fencing's governing body.
Shin sat slumped with a towel round her, emotions frayed by watching four years of dreaming of gold end in abject misery.
"I don't understand how this could have happened. The one hour was really difficult for me and my feelings," Shin said through an interpreter.
Heidemann, a one-time Playboy model and the defending champion, then lost the gold in a nail-biting 9-8 extra-time decision to Ukraine's Yana Shemyakina.
Twelfth seed Shemyakina, who was 18th at the Beijing Games four years ago, worked her way through the London preliminaries with two key victories over top-ranked Romanian fencers.
She beat fifth seed Ana Maria Branza and then knocked out another Romanian in fourth-ranked Simona Gherman.
Shemyakina believed Heidemann would have been thinking about the semi-final and wouldn't have been able to focus on the gold medal match.
The controversy erupted over whether the clock was counting down correctly.
"I am not blaming the argument for my defeat but on the other hand it did cause me stress," Heidemann said.
"Of course I would have loved to take my second gold medal but after five tough matches here I think I have won silver and not lost gold."
Shin came back to fence in the bronze-medal match but lost 15-11 to number one seed Sun Yujie of China.
Heidemann, a one-time Playboy model, said she did not blame Shin for the incident.
"It is neither her nor my fault. After the decision the Korean coach came to me and also to my coach and we hugged each other and said we are sorry for each other. I think that was really a fair gesture and I appreciate that," said the German.
Shemyakina took advantage of the extra time between the semi-finals and the final, discussing tactics with her coach.
According to the Ukrainian champion, the crowd may have played a part in disturbing Heidemann's concentration for the final after the fans had applauded Shin as she sat with the spotlight on her pristine white uniform in a darkened sports hall.
"In the dressing room you could hear how the crowd supported the Korean fencer and that upset the German a little bit," said Shemyakina.
"It may have affected her but there was no way I was giving the medal away. She already has a gold and there's no way I was going to give this one to her."