Betty Heidler of Germany is the world-record holder in women's hammer throw and was expected to be a medal favorite at the Olympics. She'll leave London with a bronze medal, but it didn't come without controversy.
Heidler leaped from ninth place to the medal stand Friday after a controversial ruling on her fifth of six throws. Because of "technical problems," officials were unable to mark where her hammer landed on the attempt. They had no other option but to have Heidler re-throw, which ended up being a foul.
Heidler was unable to improve her previous best of 73.90 meters on her sixth and final throw. And it appeared Russia's Tatyana Lysenko, Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk and China's Zhang Wenxiu were poised for gold, silver and bronze, respectively. That's when things got interesting.
Some nudging from Heidler and the German team led officials to reportedly use TV replays to spot the mark of Heidler's original fifth throw. And lo, the divot was found. It was measured at 77.12 meters, good enough to knock Zhang, who at this point was already in the middle of a celebratory lap draped in the Chinese flag, off the medal stand.
Naturally, Chinese officials appealed the decision on Zhang's behalf but to no avail, still causing the medal ceremony to be postponed until Saturday.
But you can't knock the Germans for encouraging officials to look at the replays. It's abundantly clear the only ones to blame for this mess are the officials who inexcusably couldn't register Heidler's mark to begin with.
Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images