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2012 Olympics: Sherraine vs. Hungary?

Posted by E on August 14, 2008

In the furious media blitz that followed Sherraine Schalm’s defeat at the hand of Hungarian epeeist (and former teammate) Ildiko Mincza-Nebald, two battle-camps quickly formed: those eager to defend her heated outburst at the end of a rough match, and those who called her conduct unsportsmanlike and shameful to Canada. So which is it? What really happened?

Thanks to CBC’s sanitization of the tape, Canadians won’t really know, unless they were up at 4 or 6 am and happened to catch a glimpse of the scandal that was to come. I use the word “scandal” loosely, since to a certain degree this is a lot of hoopla over essentially a bag of beans. But it got sensationalized because Canadians just don’t do these things, especially pretty blonde girls from Alberta who are regular guests on CBC radio.

So what is this big thing that Sherraine did? Apparently, the match itself wasn’t pretty. A lot of uncontrollable screaming went on, both herself and Ildiko trying to one-up each other, getting overly aggressive, etc. I’ve seen that a lot more in men’s fencing, but that’s not to say it isn’t common in women’s events. There’s a lot of theatrics, temper tantrums and bullying that go into screwing with your opponent’s head – I’ve been guilty of it on rare occasions, and I challenge any fencer who’s been around the block once or twice to tell me this isn’t so.

So after Sherraine’s match ended, she refused to shake Ildiko’s hand – which I’ve also done once after a particularly emotional bout a long time ago (and I got yellow card-ed for it). I don’t think that’s a terribly huge deal, considering the frenzied battle-cry that came out of Ildiko when she won and the way her eyes rolled back in her head – let’s just say she didn’t come across as a likeable person or one you’d run into in a dark alley at night.

But then the moment came that everyone’s been talking about: after refusing to shake Ildiko’s hand, Sherraine turned to the Hungarian team in seething anger and pointed her epee at them, then shouted “Fuck you all!”

Later she apologized, the kind of apology you make when you’ve been caught with your pants down in front of the camera and you have no choice but to say something to make it all go away. Did she mean it? Hell, no. She was sorry that it was caught on camera, that people were offended and that she came across as unprofessional because of that – I’m sure she feels sorry for the way things unfolded. But does she still carry that anger in her which spilled out on the piste yesterday? Yes, of course she still does. It came across scathingly clear in the interview with CBC the following morning.

There are certain things Sherraine talked about in that interview that no one in their right mind would question – the lack of funding, for both training and hiring coaches, and the resulting scarcity of quality training in Canadian fencing programs. It’s the same thing I blogged about yesterday, the day before her last Olympic bout. The problem is, there is a lot of emotion, passion and anger interwoven in her words, and those which made me bristle, like so many others, were the blanket statements regarding how Hungarians hate Canadians simply because they are strangers on their turn.

First of all, in order to believe this we are to assume there are no personality clashes between fencers, which let me tell you, is a pipe dream. I’d wager anything that hostility was there before this bout – those two women I saw in that Olympic bout hated each others’ guts. When you add the fact that Ildiko and others on her team obviously felt threatened by a foreign fencer coming into their country, into their gym, training and yes, bettering herself, they wanted to get rid of her. As much as I actually do sympathise with Sherraine, when it comes to the Olympics, it’s every woman for herself.

From what I gather, Ildiko was ranked slightly below Sherraine on the world ranking list (Sherraine in 5th place, Ildiko in 12th) and possibly felt that she was giving Sherraine the advantage of using a Hungarian coach, a Hungarian gym, and practice with fencers who she would have to defeat – in the process “stealing” ideas, learning of other girls’ secret fencing habits and shortcomings, etc. So Ildiko went to the coach and complained, and probably other Hungarian fencers did as well, as Sherraine was shut out of the 2-week training camp just before the Olympics.

It’s really too bad that happened, although the coach did do his best by apparently hooking her up with another athletes’ training regimen. But imagine what would’ve happened if Sherraine DID beat Ildiko in Beijing – and the scandal that would ensue in the Budapest papers – we allowed a Canadian to train with us, learn all our habits, steal our tricks, and now she beat us out of the Olympics. What I am trying to say is – the coach had no choice but to listen to the complaints of his Hungarian athletes. His job and reputation were at stake.

Sherraine, if you are reading this, it’s not because I disagree with your opinion, because if I were in your position I’d be mad as hell, and I’d need more than “a couple of brandies” as you put it, to hold me back from trying to wring Ildiko’s neck. But you need to tell yourself that your Hungarian coach didn’t really have a choice in doing what he did. And in the end, your opponents and you ARE on different teams. But that doesn’t mean that Hungarians in general hate Canadians – although many of them may tend to be more than a tad bit xenophobic and abrasive. This wasn’t personal. Perhaps winning gold isn’t all that you are meant for. Maybe this event is meant to inspire you, down the line, to become an advocate for increased athletic funding, or recognition of fencing as a sport in Canada.

No matter what happens, I wish Sherraine will take the time she so desperately needs to regroup – and actually think not only about “showing them” or “beating them” in 2012, but whether she really needs this in her life right now. I know from the media coverage and her own blog that things have been difficult in her personal life, and I assume that now she will have to leave Hungary and find a place for herself again. For someone of her age, a cross-roads lays ahead – there are questions of life and priority, biological clocks and decisions to be made. Another 4 years of training, for a few minutes on the piste might be a glorious thing when you have a medal around your neck, but honestly, what does it all mean?

There has to be more than this. There is more to the universe than winning and losing a bloody match in an obscure sport that most people ridicule as elitist and biased, both observations not entirely untrue.

I remember the moment when I chose to walk away from fencing. It wasn’t simply a decision to either quit and be a loser, or be an athlete in a Nike ad and “Just do it” – give my life to fencing and never ever question that decision; to forsake travel and studying and writing books, to give up meeting someone who appreciated my mind rather than my exotic ability to fight with swords. No, when I walked away from fencing, when I divorced fencing, I didn’t quit – I saved myself. My pride, my sanity, the very meaning of my existence as a human being.

My worth didn’t reside in that metal stick in my hand. In that moment, I became a multi-faceted person, a human being once again instead of just a fencer. I became the writer I was always meant to be. It was the best decision I could have made for myself.

The sad thing is, when people leave their sports, when they get older – professional ballet dancers, gymnasts, and yes, fencers – they look back at their life (if lucky, a life filled with accolades and medals) and live on that for sustenance. They live in poverty, like so many artists and writers do, surrounded by masses of other people who simply don’t understand the kind of dedication that had compelled them to forego financial decisions that would prevent them from ending up on social assistance.

The answer to the question “Was it all worth it?” can only be answered by the same individual who is asking it. But if you’re not certain of the answer, if you judge your personal worth as that stick in your hand, that four-minute bout overseen by a biased referee, then you need to reinvent yourself. To drop the excuses, as valid as they may be, and realize this isn’t about the sport, or the sword, or the Hungarians – but about you. And what you are supposed to do with the rest of your life.

37 Responses to “2012 Olympics: Sherraine vs. Hungary?”

  1. mason said

    Thank you for posting her comment. I have spent a lot of time trying to find what she said which was so offensive. Unfortunatley this is pretty bad. She should know that every nation in the world is watching her. Her follow-up apology was horrible as it was not an apology at all. Saying that everyone says things like this to quantify her outburst is simply trying to deflect her poor judgement. I am proud of all the Athletes representing Canada but I feel sad that someone could be so unsportsman-like.

  2. disgusted said

    Here are some of the comments people are leaving on the CBC site – and I totally agree with them:

    “It’s one thing to show anger about losing, but totally unacceptable to direct it at the Hungarian team. And then during your CBC interview you say that Hungarians hate Canadians. Brilliant show of racism.

    I think it’s more believable that they just don’t like you personally and you just have an attitude for blaming everyone but yourself.”

    “Ms. Schalm,

    Although I can empathize with your reaction immediately after losing, I have difficulty with the way you condecended to the interviewer afterwards. You say that your comments were not malicious or over-blown at the time. Neither were the interviewers when he was doing his job in asking you the hard questions. Yet you patronized him asking him whether he had ever competed at the olympic level.

    Does that matter?
    Are you the only person who has ever suffered from stress due to failure?

    Simply because we are not all olympians does not mean that we don’t understand the concept of feeling pressure or stress or that we haven’t, at one time or another, had the weight of others’ expectations on our shoulders. You use that as an excuse and justify your initial comments, and later, your behaviour during your interview. Perhaps you thought you were making a point or being clever. Instead, you simply came off as if you think you are better that anyone within earshot.

    Being emotional and being civil are not mutually exclusive. I urge everyone to recall Perdita Felicien’s reaction and interview following her misstep during the 2004 Olympics. Is it possible that she swore after falling on the track? Sure. But she certainly didn’t heap any feelings of self-pity she may have had on the journalist who was simply asking her questions. The moral from that story is that one can be emotional and still have class.”

    If Schalm had demonstrated as much self-control in the moments after her losing match as she had in the months and years of training leading up to the Olympics, she wouldn’t have been in the position she now finds herself.

    “I find it interesting that she defends herself against comments of being “un-Canadian” by drawing parallels between her outburst and the notoriously bad behaviour displayed in ice hockey. Fighting and temper tantrums don’t belong in any sport. The difference here is that her outburst was on the international stage. Her reaction does not make me proud to be a Canadian.”

    “I have no problem with her actions during the match – just her comments afterwards. I understand she was frustrated but she looked like such a sore loser! My roomates and I were watching it and saying ‘Oh God, that’s embarrassing. Please, just stop now!’ Hockey, fencing, football – the sport doesn’t matter here. Take a knee, count to ten. Yikes!”

  3. disgusted said

    for Sherraine,
    The display of poor sportsmanship was embarrassing. While the olympics is a venue to display the best of sporting ability, it is also a venue in which to demonstrate the best of sportsmanship. If anything, she should have been angry at herself for her loss, not lash out at the judges/competitor. I agree that she shouldn’t apologize for not winning a medal, but she should apologize for acting like an angry 3 year old – and apologies don’t have a “but” in the middle of them: “I’m sorry but my emotions/my disappointment/my etc/etc/etc”. Clearly not an apology, more a justification. And you know, hockey players might fight during the game, but they don’t piss and whine their way off the ice after the game – not even a comparison.

    I think her behaviour was out of line and lacked class and casts a bad image on herself and Canada. She’s not the only one making sacrafices and has trained hard, none of the other atheletes whine and put their foots in their mouths each time they speak. She’s just got a volatile temper which is the main cause of her poor performance, every other Canadian faces the same conditions. When you’re on a world stage you should know the consequences of your words and actions will be multiplied 10 fold, unlike a national hockey game as she put it. Had she won she would not have thrown a tantrum so there would be nothing for the media to focus on so… I think she should think a bit before opening her mouth because she’ll only dig herself deeper and deeper.

    Well, as far as I’m concerned, you’re “once, twice, three times a loser”.

    First, you lost the match.
    Then, you lost your self-composure, temper and self-control.

    And now you’ve lost the respect of any Canadian who tries their best. So many of us strive to make sportsmanship the major issue. Winning is irrelevant, if you act like such a spoiled child when you lose. I wonder if you would have “nyah nyah-ed” if you had won.

    You should never be allowed to represent Canada again, since you are such a poor sportsman. I personally am disgusted with your “antics”. It would surely seem that you should go back to the trailer park you were trained in.

    Sherraine is not sorry she said anything, just sorry she got caught. Just look at the title of her blog, “For six seconds I reacted badly”, that say’s it all. More correctly it should read “For six seconds I reacted badly, and then for the next day I didn’t respond appropriately”.

  4. jk said

    kudos to her for having some vigor and passion. as she expressed, canada hardly funds her, therefore i don’t see her representing canada, she’s representing herself (and this is why i like her even more.. i like athletes who do it for themselves and not ‘their country’, which i think at the end of the day is bs to get funding & attention). it’s her choice to represent herself as she pleases.

  5. disgusted said

    I will admit that I do not know you, Ms. Schalm, nor do I follow the sport of fencing. Nonetheless, I am bothered by your reaction after the incident, not so much the incident itself. You are right, swearing does occur in hockey and after you strike your thumb with a hammer. You have likely prepared for years for this event and the disappointment of losing must be immense. Still, I am struck by your comments on CBC radio yesterday that these things happen but unfortunately yours were caught on camera….no, Ms.Schalm, its unfortunate that you said it, regardless of whether it was recorded or not. Would it be any better if just your opponent and her contingent saw/heard it? I think not. In your blog, blaming the “complicated history with [your] opponent”, saying we wouldn’t have minded if you had medalled, or saying people do it in other sports is not an excuse. You are missing the point. Stop blaming everyone else, say you should not have said those words, and let us decide if you are finally owing up to your actions.

  6. […] crowd that are just soooo “offended” and “disgusted”…and all you Brian Williams wannabees. May you all go to hell; I’ll support the Canadian. Schalm’s loss yesterday […]

  7. generic username said

    This is a disgrace! I was hoping that Shalm would bring some positive attention to a great sport that many people know nothing about.

    I can’t believe the excuses people are making for this particular athlete. If all Canadian athletes acted like Schalm we’d be watching a long line of temper tantrums and excuse making. I’m sure most Canadians would have turned the TV off long ago if what was displayed by Schalm was the norm.

    Is Schalm’s loss any more disappointing than that of other Canadian athletes? Reading the comments here it would seem so. Why is her loss so much more tragic than the others? Is she special?
    The fact is all the Canadian athletes train long and hard, make sacrifices, and are underfunded by government. This is not unique to Schalm, yet her unsportsmanlike behavior and blaming others is unique to her.

    My disappointment is not of her losing, but of her disgusting comments and attitude that show the worst sportsmanship I have ever encountered. She should have more respect, considering she is funded by this country.
    She was arrogant throughout the bout, fenced dirty and at the end of it all wouldn’t even shake the hand of her opponent, who despite all of Shalm’s excuses, was the better fencer that day. She couldn’t have been more petty and disrespectful.

    Every time she opens her mouth she says something more offensive (i.e. only apologizing because her anger was caught on camera, saying that a few brandies will help her cope, various Hungarians hate me comments, etc. etc. etc) I hope no impressionable young fencers are hearing her comments, or any kids for that matter as she is now promoting drinking to ease dissapointment.

    I do NOT want a person like this portraying a fencer or a Canadian athlete. I’m embarrassed to be categorized with this person.
    And as for comments fuming that the hungarian National team wouldn’t allow her to practice up to the Olympics–DUH? Why would they?? You are on opposing teams!!?!
    Shalm needs to stop making excuses and thinking everyone is out to sabatoge her and focus on her fencing and fence for herself.
    If she’d remove the chip off her shoulder, her epee may move easier.

    Fencing is a tough sport, tougher mentally and physically than any other. She really should continue therapy if she can’t handle herself.

  8. AverageJane said

    I wish all the people rallying behind Sherraine on her blog would take the time and get their facts right.

    People are not upset that she did not win GOLD or her placement. No one is saying anything about the time and effort she had put forward to get to this point in her career. What people are upset about is her behavior and attitude. Canadians have always supported there Olympians no matter there finish. We do not get upset with them for not being the best. That is not our way.

    The reason why people are discussed with her is because of her attitude, lack of respect and her behavior towards other competitors, officials, and lastly the fans of sports. Her interview with CBC’s Scott Russell in the studio hours after her lose could have been a time to reflect on how she reacted after the match. But it was not, she compounded her previous behavior with even more poor attitude. See seemed to want to blame everyone else for her lose. She is not someone I would want our kids looking up to.

    I do think the Canadian government needs to increase funding and support to athletes posed to represent our great nation. Anyone that thinks cutting funding should stop and think about what would happen to the child of the world that did not have sports to help guide them. I am not talking about just the few that are good enough to make it to the Olympics, but the average kid that needs some direction to help keep them going and off the streets. Supporting our youth is only comment sense.

    This is a matter that does need to be address seriously. With behavior like what was displayed today Sherraine is definitely not the representative I would wish for any organization.

    I personally do not ever want to she this person represent my country ever again.

    P.S. who would want to buy a book written by such a brat? I think this is one we can all pass on.

    This behavior is nothing new for Schalm she was a poor sport at the last Olympics and apparently she has not learned anything in the intervening time. In fact this Olympics was even worse, what an embarrassment for Canada and to her fellow Canadian athletes.

    Sherraine has the temerity to say that Hungarians hate Canadians but she can’t or won’t consider the possibility that perhaps the Hungarians just don’t like her. That would be the normal thing to think for most people but apparently not Schalm; Hungarians hate Canadians that’s the problem and that is the reason for this loss.

    I truly hope this is the last Olympics for Sherraine Schalm. Canada does not need people like her representing this country.

  9. Elisa said

    Ok guys. Lots of merited points have been brought up here, but I have to say that if we chose to exclude people from “representing Canada” based on swearing, I don’t think anyone would ever get to go 🙂
    It’s just too bad that it happened when it did, right after the match, and on camera. But this too shall pass and in another week, nobody will ever remember this story. The real question is, what will Sherraine make of this experience, and where will she go from here.

  10. bob1 said

    Fencing attracks the mediocre athletes and coaches…. bureaucrats control the sport. I’m afraid that a total reorganization of the fencing sport in Canada is in order. The coaches and bureaucrats who cling to their posts letting no one express himself or herself. Sherraine does not understand fencing even though she spent years in Hungary. The good coaches are in the USA and not in Hungary… they are also in Canada but no one gives them a chance. (proud mediocre canadian coaches keep it all for themselves).

  11. Robert said

    As a Canadian citizen who has just spent the last two months in Hungary, the idea that Hungarians have some sort of dislike for us is ridiculous. While the competition may come out in sports, that has nothing to do with the cultural attitudes of a people.

  12. Bob Sanderson said

    I am very proud to be Canadian and one of the qualities that make me that way is to know most Canadians are decent, well-grounded individuals who take life as it comes. Up until these Olympics, I knew very little about Sherraine Schalm, but when I saw her on TV whining about losing and how it is not easy, I remembered where I had seen her before.

    When she won a match a few years ago, I remember a jubilant athlete with her tongue stuck out and her chest puffed up all proud. Well, honey, what goes around comes around. I did remember you from that simply because I thought it was VERY unsportsmanlike to gloat like you did in that picture… just as it was to whine and complain about losing a match this week in Beijing.

    You are respresenting Canada, and I expect more. My hat is off to the boxer who lost 21-1 against a very good opponent from Kazakhstan. Did he whine and complain, no… did he feel horrible after losing, Im sure he did… but he held his head high.

    There are a LOT worse things than losing at the Olympics… please keep that in perspective. I dont know ms Schalm, but my life-long impression is that she is a spoiled rich kid who is a very poor example for our children.

    I hope you are proud of your outburst… and I hope it was worth ruining your reputation over it.

    I wish you well.

    Bob Sanderson
    Riverview, NB

  13. zaphod said

    A very different account than Schalm gives on the CBC
    where she says she *did* shake her opponent’s hand, and talks about the swear as little more than something uttered beneath her breath rather than shouted.

    Which account is true? The CBC of course won’t show us a clip.

  14. Elisa said

    the facts are pretty clear: on the video all of us saw earlier, you can clearly see that she didn’t shake Ildiko’s hand. At first. She probably eventually did so later, but right at the end of the bout, she did not.
    In terms of the CBC editing, realize that she is one of their star athletes, has been widely profiled, a frequent guest on CBC radio and is one of only 9 athletes chosen to have a blog during the Beijing Olympics. It would be stupid for the CBC to actually show that video, but as a result of their editing, they are doing an equally bad job of spoiling Sherraine’s reputation. Because, you see, people want to see that video for themselves, and are questioning why CBC will not allow it, even on their website. However, even the CBC interviewer who spoke with Sherraine yesterday called what she did a “violent” outburst. It would be odd for him to say this if she’d done nothing at all.

    If you read foreign-language reports of the Olympics – I read them in French and Romanian – you get the unedited version of what happened. That is what I wrote about today in this blog post. I wanted to do my best to give an unbiased version of what really happened.

    Early on in the day the facts were also on Wikipedia, but that entry has since been “cleaned up.”
    Anyway, there are a lot worse hissy fits today – apparently a Cuban coach called some Chinese judges “a bunch of assholes” or something to that effect. And some guy threw down his bronze medal, saying he should’ve won gold, swore at everyone, and exited the building. Nice spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship, eh? lol 🙂

  15. generic username said

    Yeah, I did the search in French and found one of a few articles:

    ” «Fuck you all!» L’escrimeuse canadienne Sherraine Schalm a mal caché sa colère en utilisant ce langage peu respectueux pour une olympienne après avoir perdu son match mercredi à Pékin.

    Après une défaite serrée aux mains de la Hongroise Ildiko Mincza-Nebald en huitièmes de finale, Schalm, originaire de l’Alberta, a à peine serré la main de son adversaire avant de se tourner vers l’équipe hongroise et de lancer un «Fuck you all!» bien senti, pointant son fleuret vers les membres de la délégation adverse.”

    So even with my sketchy high school French, I get the picture.

  16. disgusted said

    Here are some more Canadian viewers’ reactions to the “apology” on Sherraine’s blog:

    “Fencing regulations during competition clearly state that such behavior in the beginning, during and at the end of a match warrants a black card and expulsion from competitions. I think the referee either did not hear or just felt sorry for her. He should have expelled her for the sake of the sport. Even on a club level her behavior is unacceptable. Fencing students who talk like that must be sent home. Anyone holding a sword must at all time respect his opponent and control his or her anger. This is the most basic rule in fencing. Sheraine in her senior was able to learn this. She sets a bad example to the whole fencing community in Canada and in the world. Without controlled behavior fencing becomes a vulgar and dangerous sport. My son who is a fencer for quite a few years was trained to respect his opponent no matter what. You win or lose with a smile, always. Never hate your opponent. Fencing is like chess: you want to win but you cannot win if you start hating. This is basic stuff in the sport of fencing and probably in every sport. For me Sherraine is not a fencer and she apologize as much as she wants…” – ronbob1

    “We expect more from you simply because fencing is seen as more of a “gentleman” sport than boorish hockey. I expect less of hockey players. And still, if I saw a hockey player point his stick at the opposing team and express similar sentiment, I’d think that he was being unsportsmanlike as well. And frankly, as a woman and writer, I expect you to behave better.

    Yes, temper tantrums happen. Ask my 7 and 2 year old. But they shouldn’t happen in adults.
    Using examples of other athletes who have had temper tantrums (John McEnroe et al) is simply excusing their behaviour as well… I want to watch the Olympics with my kids to watch pure sports without the stain of sponsorship, inflated salaries and big babies. It’s supposed to be sport for the love of sport.

    I don’t think your behaviour is “un-Canadian”… I think it’s unsportsmanlike and I don’t care if you win or lose, you are supposed to behave in a gracious manner. In fact, more than one person smarter than me has been quoted on how a competitor’s true nature can be seen when they lose.” – HeatherCook

  17. laszlo said

    Wow, this complitely flew by me. I am a hungarian temporarily living in Canada, and have been trying to follow most of whats happening at the olympics online (as hungarian tv reportage of the olympics is ip filtered outside the country). So i missed the outburst live.
    I checked all hungarian media that i could, and it wasnt reported anywhere. The whole game is reported in basically one line stating that Ildiko didn’t start well, but got back the game at the end against the Canadian, who trained in Hungary with hungarian coaches. Not a word of the outburst, or the controversy. I even felt proud that a canadian would go to hungary to train there and thought that she must be a cool and brave person.

    But then i read up on what actually happened… What a slap in the face, how unsportsman like… Seriously, what did she expect? How long would the opposing team train her? And her comment during the interview about hungarians simply hating canadians? Oh god, I wonder how her current hungarian coach feels about this.

  18. Elisa said

    Laszlo, I’m half Hungarian as well…my father was born in Debrecen. It really irritated me when she said that – I’ve spent some time in Budapest as well, and the people can sometimes be morose, but I never felt like I was hated. I know it must have been personal for her, I can see why.

    Her Hungarian coach is probably understanding (he seems like a nice man from her blog descriptions) but must be embarassed about all this attention; I really feel for him, trying to maintain the peace and honour his obligation to his own athletes while trying to do the best he could for Sherraine. It’s really such a shame.

  19. Zsu said

    I’m from Hungary and I read now what happened on the match. As Laszló said, in Hungary nobody talkes about this event, we are all happy because of the bronze medal! Reading the comments of the others I feel very happy because they are not against of us, and I have to say, I have never heard that we, Hungarians hate the people of Canada. Never. Of course, in a competition everybody is foe, adversary, but not enemy. (I hope I was clear.)
    Anyway, I wish success for Canada!

  20. András said

    Hey, im hungarian, and all i wanna say is we love canadians!

  21. Balazs said


    I’m Hungarian, and I saw the Mincza-Schalm duel, and before that, the Mincza-Branza semi-final duel too. Ildikó would like to retire after the Olypmic Games and she wanted to end her fencing with an olympic golden medal. When she lost the duel to Branza, she broke. Compared to the Schalm-duel, that was the more furious, brutal. At 13-13, the Romanian rushed her, and after a tough fight, she hit the Romanian. The referee didn’t give her the touché, because he thought, Branza had stepped over the piste before the touché had been reached. But if he hadn’t stopped them, when Branza had done that, than the touché should have remained a touché. After that a double touché was on the piste, and then Branza had her final touché, so Ildikó lost the semifinal 14 to 15 – because of a stupid referee.
    Ildikó had hoped for the final, so the semifinal depressed her. That was visible at the beginning of the Schalm-duel. She was depressed, unfocused. Schalm got a huge vantage of five touché (3-8), and than Ildikó, as the phoenix reborns from her ashes, rose up, and did an incredible fencing, and the duel ended with her victory. But I don’t think, she had felt an irresistible force in her mind to defeat Schalm because she is Canadian or her former teammate. She just wanted to win. The object of duelling is victory.
    The scandal: it flew me too, because there was not a mention of that scandal in the Hungarian media or in the interviews of Mincza. They ignored it. And I think that was the wise movement to do, because it shows confidence and staidness. Much unlike the “Fuck you all!”.
    And the comment that Hungarians hate Canadians – false, false. Why would we hate Canadians? We dislike some nation, but Canada is not one of them. We love Canada 🙂

    Győr, Hungary

  22. Elisa said

    Thanks to all the Hungarians who have written in to set the record straight! Congratulations on your bronze medal. Everyone can appreciate the struggle it takes to train for an Olympic medal, and your country has such a long and wonderful reputation in this sport.
    For everyone reading this (and a special note to CBC), please take note of the definitive answer:
    Hungarians do NOT (I repeat, NOT) hate Canadians. 🙂

  23. John said

    I am Canadian and am very very ashamed of the behavior of this out of control, self centered loser. She did an interview the following day on CBC (nationally funded public Canadian radio). I have never heard such arrogance and pathetic excuse making crap in all my life. She claims that for 7 years she had to endure the company of Hungarian traning mates that “hated” her and did not want her around at all and that she couldn’t understand why they would not be delighted for the opportunity to practice with a fencer of her superior caliber. She went on to described other occasions where she lost her temper (throwing and breaking her epee on one occasion)and how her coaches and psychologists have implored her to keep her cool if she wanted to be successful. She seems unable to draw a connection between this uncontrolled behavior and the less than enthusiastic welcome she gets from the Hungarians. All of this suggests a very unpleasant competitor that has little sense of sportsmanship. If her Hungarian hosts in fact did hate her, it is not difficult to understand why.

    I would be very incensed if I knew that my tax dollars were going to support her in any way. Who needs this kind of ungrateful, spoiled brat out there whining about everything and humiliating Canada internationally.

  24. Elisa said

    After this incident, I think that many athletes in Canadian fencing were sent a message with this situation: that overall, Canadians are not going to be tolerant of tantrums and unncesesary aggressivity in a sport that has always been regarded as genteel and the epitome of fair play.
    However, the thing Canadians also do not realize is how heated fencing matches can get – screaming on the piste and chest-pounding is often common-place. Do I condone it? Absolutely not, but I recognize it as part of the theatrics and opponent intimidation that eliminates weaker adversaries – through mind games, if you will, which are a strategic and vital component of fencing as we know it.

    I believe Sherraine is only a byproduct of a sport where many people shout and lose their cool. More than one would think, actually. I have seen it so often, everywhere from varsity bouts to the Nationals. So she is certainly not a unique case, and people need to realize this. I think coaches should do better in eliminating these bad habits from athletes before they become so deeply ingrained that they become a reflex action.

    Ok, so having said all that, I think that everyone would agree that the spotlight has done more than enough to send its message home. It’s time to call it a day. I don’t think it would do any of us any good, never mind Sherraine, to continue this nonsense.

  25. […] 18, 2008 · No Comments If an American had done this, would you Canadians be screaming about how arrogant and terrible we are, or would you still be […]

  26. disgusted said

    Here’s some more opinions posted on her CBC blog:
    Robert Sanderson says:
    , personally, dont have any interest in reading her book or any tidbits of wisdom from ms Schalm.

    The internation governing body for fencing competitions clearly states that “any athlete whose conduct is disrespectful to any other competitor is to be disciplined, up to, and including disqualification from future internation competitions.”

    She showed her disdain and was very disrepectful of her colleagues, her competitors and her sport. Need I remind ms Schalm that the other Olympic athletes worked every bit as hard as she did and, probably, put up with as much adversity as she did to get there.

    She is not passionate about her sport or her country… her words and conduct were nothing more than a childish “hissy-fit”…

    I would ask her if she would allow such conduct in her elementary school classroom, I think not.

    And here’s a comment from a couple of fencers:
    I believe there are a lot more people who are shocked at Sherraine’s attitude than are posting here….but yes, it’s true that all of us overreact and freak out once in a while, it’s all part of being human.
    The difference is, by choosing to display such an attitude in front of millions of people while representing your country, is what makes Sherraine a disgrace.

    I watched the bout, the screaming and carrying on that went on, and it was like watching a rooster fight. You were screaming “YEAHHH!” and “WHOOA! and practically hitting your chest at every point….my God, I thought, if fencing is such a pompous, arrogant sport of tempers and theatrics, why the hell are we still funding it?

    The thing is, there are SO many other athletes who would be so much more deserving of having book deals and CBC-hosted blogs than this arrogant, defensive individual. So hey, CBC, the next time you invite athletes to blog on your site, how about asking Carol Hyunh, who showed such grace in her matches, and didn’t hop up and down screaming “YEAH! WHO”S YOUR DADDY?” when she won.
    Carol, unlike Sherraine, exhibits what I call a winning spirit without the drama and the temper tantrums. Oh, and she WON, too.

    AND from Elberich:
    I have fenced for over ten years. Unfortunately competition is about winning and losing, it is not about fencing. This has degraded the culture of fencing. You can see this clearly when each few seconds of fencing (notably in foil and saber) is followed by ten seconds of posing and gesticulating directed at the judges to convince them that you did initiate the attack, have right of way, etc…

    It has become more important to convince the judge and score the point than engage in the sport. Fencing is a wonderful sport and when it is practiced with good conduct and within the spirit of fencing it is a thing of beauty. Unfortunately competition has destoryed this.

  27. Elisa said

    I totally agree. Competition, and the histrionic tantrums and theatrics that accompany it, have destroyed the soul of fencing. Then again, did it ever have a soul, or was it always dominated by a few, “high-bred” snooty white guys? Things haven’t changed much, have they? lol….

    There is no such thing in this country as “recreational” fencing. Everyone is pushed to attend competitions – hell, you can’t even fence without being forced to buy a “CFF” licence. What the f*ck is that??

    You don’t see people shooting hoops or playing soccer in the park being forced to buy licenses, do you? I think the true measure of a sport is whether an average kid can play it in the park. Instead, it is an inbred little fraternity where everyone knows everyone by the first name. (Oh, hi, Don – thanks for forcing me to buy a CFF licence this year – not!)

    Even if you don’t want to compete, there is no choice. This is how fencing is forced to remain in the hands of an archaic, elitist little bunch of snooty, inbred morons.

    Personally, I think it’s bullsh*t.

  28. […] 2012 Olympics: Sherraine vs. Hungary? […]

  29. […] 2012 Olympics: Sherraine vs. Hungary? […]

  30. Slapay said

    I have been thinking about this incident for awhile. What I appreciate the most about Sherraine is the authenticity of her statements. At the same time I also appreciated how Lolo Jones sucked it up after she missed her hurdle. And I think both of these athletes spoke from true feelings. What I don’t like is hearing the fake and canned speeches.

  31. fencing-coach said

    The reason everyone is asked to get a CFF license is because Sport Canada will only accept participation numbers for a sport based on individual memberships purchased. The $10 CFF license is a small price to pay if you want to support your sport & ensure that fencing remains funded nationally. Getting the CFF license doesn’t force anyone to compete. I make everyone in my club get one because I know how important these numbers are to every sport.

    Having said this, the CFF appears to be doing very little to support fencing in Canada beyond what they do for the national team, which is minimal at best. What about coaching development? Nothing has been done in this regard for years & this is the future of fencing in Canada…no coaches, no fencers!

  32. matteo said

    I was there watching the match 10 mt from the pist. Sherraine didn’t say anything to the Ungarian team and she shaked Ildiko and the refery hand, otherwise she would be disqualified. She probably said the sentence “f—-ing Hungarian” but was not notice by anyone except the camera.

  33. Elisa said

    Matteo: ok, so then what was the whole scandal about, and then why did she apologize? She herself admitted in the CBC interview the day after (and on her CBC blog) that she acted badly and that nothing would have happened if the cameras weren’t on. If nothing actually happened, then why would she feel the need to apologize?

    Unfortunately, I think reality isn’t shaped by what the ear hears or the eye sees, but what a camera records – that makes all the difference, since media shapes almost everything we think is “reality”. And since what really happened is not being repeated by the CBC broadcasts, “reality” will always be up to subjective interpretation. I wish they would just air the bout and the aftermath unedited and let everyone just see for themselves what really happened, if anything at all.

  34. Ginny Schalm said

    You know that God is with you through the ups and the downs. I pray that you feel His support and trust Him to help you with whatever life throws at you.
    Thinking of you
    Ginny Schalm

  35. jr said

    I saw the interview on CBC and a search for more info brought me here. Very interesting ongoing discussion, if you could call it that.

    A video of the incident is here:

    Hopefully, it will answer some questions about who said or did what. All you need are basic lip-reading skills.

    (Nice blog, BTW.)

  36. Elisa said

    Thanks for that link, Jr. Yes, I have more than adequate lip-reading skills – my parents were deaf and I learned to enunciate early. Nice closeup of that mouthful 🙂

  37. I wish that you all knew Sherraine for the wonderful, kind and spirited person that she really is. She has dedicated herself to her sport for so many years of her life and through extreme hardships to achieve what is only a dream for many young Canadians. A few seconds of heated emotion caught on camera should not be the measure of Sheraine’s character. She is truly a beautiful soul, a wonderful friend and someone that I am proud to have representing our country.

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