Hammer medal botch up explained
Sun, 12 Aug 2012 4:36a.m.
Lack of prompt action by the competition jury after a computer warning initially deprived Germany's Betty Heidler of a hammer throw bronze medal at the Olympics, the IOC revealed.
It also allowed China's Zhang Wenxiu to do a lap of honour with national flag in the belief she had won bronze before the result was reversed.
The computer was not ready to accept the freak occurrence of successive throws of exactly the same distance and wiped out Heidler's fifth throw of 77.12 metres, which came after Russia's Tatyana Lysenko - who went on to take gold - had also thrown 77.12m.
"My understanding from what the IAAF has told me is: Her attempt was exactly the same as the attempt before. So the system didn't recognise it," IOC spokesman Mark Adams explains.
The competition computer was programmed in such a way that identical distances in successive throws are automatically rated a mistake by the event jury.
Heidler's distance never showed up on the scoreboard.
Heidler protested immediately but it took until around half an hour after the competition, after endless discussions during which even the old fashioned tape measure was brought out to check the distance, the correct result was finally given.
By then, China's Zhang had been on her lap of honour. The Chinese camp protested once Heidler was bumped onto the podium, but that was rejected.
German officials said the embarrassing scenes could have been avoided had the competition officials interrupted the competition immediately when Heidler's distance was not displayed.
"This the most bizarre incident in my career," Heidler says.
"The officials didn't notice it at once but they told me the mark was measured. They could confirm that it went beyond the 75-metre mark, but couldn't say exactly how far the throw was."
The German camp must have had a feeling of deja vu in the Olympic stadium, six days after Lilli Schwarzkopf was disqualified from the women's heptathlon after the concluding 800m because she was deemed to have stepped off the track.
Red-faced judges had to concede after video replay reviews that the runner behind Schwarzkopf had committed the offence, and Schwarzkopf took silver behind Briton Jessica Ennis.
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