A computer failure during the transmission of the measurements meant that 28-year-old Heidler's fifth and longest throw was not correctly recorded on the scoreboard by Olympic judges.
The world record holder from Frankfurt looked on in despair as her fifth throw – which was later measured as 77.13 metres - was officially announced as 72.34 metres, earning her eighth place in the medal table.
After a long wait and indignant protests from the German team, during which Heidler argued audibly with the judges, the throw was re-measured by hand using camera footage and Heidler was awarded bronze.
Judges rejected protests from Chinese hammer thrower Zhang Wenxiu, who slipped into fourth place after initially having been awarded the bronze medal.
“I have to say it's a scandal that everyone saw it and still the wrong measurement appeared on the scoreboard,” German Chef de Mission Michael Vesper told the ARD television channel, wrote Focus magazine on Saturday.
“When Betty Heidler said that she had thrown further the competition continued and the facts were not clarified first. It's completely incomprehensible,” he added
Heidler, however, does not want to dwell on the judges' mistake and is satisfied with the final result. “All that doesn't matter anymore. I'm happy,” she told ARD.