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Red
-19th January 2008, 21:10
Has anybody gone? And if so, is there any news?

tigger
-20th January 2008, 14:11
Chris Buxton, Neil Hutchison, Alex O Connell and Stuart Marshall

Not heard anything yet...

Jan O'C
-21st January 2008, 09:27
Chris, Neil and Stuart all out in 128, Alex made it through to L64 on Sunday but lost to American. There were some very interesting results - Szalagi made L4, Beisheim L8 and Hartung L32. These are all guys that Alex was on a level with last year and in fact beat both Beisheim and Hartung more than once - what are the Hungarians and Germans doing to help their fencers that we aren't? Having said that Limbach got L32 which is not good for him.

Ronald Velden
-21st January 2008, 10:12
They are training professionally with world class coaches! They are also part
of long term 'development' programmes.

Hungary does not have a lot of sabreurs eg there are only about 10-15 born in 1991 or 1992, but they train together as a collective. Ilyasz who is coming
to London for CAMDEN INTERNATIONAL won the Budapest World U20 Cup and
finished ahead of Szygalai!

Marcos
-21st January 2008, 13:26
they train together as a collective.

This is the key point

The quickest way to improve consistently is to train day in day out with people who are better than you.

I would suggest, and can only talk from the sidelines, that the lads need to train more regularly with a higher quality of fencer. I hate talking about individuals, but as it is Alex's mother who asked the question, are there enough people around Alex and the others to help unlock their potential? One-off camps with other teams are a start, but to be effective you need to immerse yourself in this kind of environment.

Jan O'C
-21st January 2008, 17:05
Iliaz is good (he must be to win Budapest) but Alex beat him last week in the L32 at Goppingen so its not that our fencers aren't good enough.

I spoke to Alex about this today on the way back from the airport and he said exactly the same as Marcus - you need to train regularly with people better than yourself and this is what these countries are achieving. They have enough very good fencers and they all train together. We don't have enough of that standard and our best fencers aren't training together. This is why the set up at Brentwood worked so well when Alex won the Worlds. Two fantastic coaches and all training facilities on site and probably the two best other cadets at that time to train alongside him. So he trained every day 2 times a day most days often fencing against David Sach - its much harder now when he has to return from Cambridge to Brentwood or travel to London several times a week.

Hopefully by the time he finishes uni (2009) and wants to train full time, the current system will have all the creases ironed out - I'm just not sure where we get these 'better' fencers from for our guys to train with! Suggestions?

pinkelephant
-21st January 2008, 17:11
Hopefully by the time he finishes uni (2009) and wants to train full time, the current system will have all the creases ironed out - I'm just not sure where we get these 'better' fencers from for our guys to train with! Suggestions?

Cloning?:D

hokers
-21st January 2008, 19:15
This is a subject we were talking about in the pub the other night. In this country we put all our eggs in a small number of baskets and almost create this two-tier system. All the expectations go on a few individuals and the collective ability level of that weapon in this country does not increase.

I go to about 8 competitions a year, maybe 10 this year and if I get one poule fight and one DE against a top 20 fencer, that's about average. So 10 DEs a year against people who are definitely better than me as opposed to people of a similar standard "could-go-either-way" fights. That's probably under 2 hours total fencing time. And the elite few don't do that many domestic competitions, so everyone else doesn't get much of an opportunity to fence them.

We should do a training day the day after a competition where it's 8 hours of free fencing, coaches doing paid lessons etc. Group people by ranking and everyone has to fight a certain number of fights against each people from each group?

Or a BIG squad weekend away somewhere for the top 50 in every weapon, 3 times a year?

Let's get some training time fencing against different styles, rather than winning and losing the same fights at our own clubs every week.

I moaned a lot when I drew Alex in my poule at competition twice in a row, because it's almost a guaranteed defeat, BUT I probably learned more from those fights than any other poule fights all season. We need to do something like this to bring the collective ability levels up.

Jan O'C
-21st January 2008, 21:11
Cloning is an excellent idea and we'd only need a dozen or so! We could choose different ones who have different styles.

Seriously tho, Hokers has a good point - Alex says that every international he fences he gets to know more about different fencers favourite moves but often its then ages before he fences them again - if you did it full time and went to loads of competitions as much for training as anything else, you'd get some good practice.

Hokers, if you fenced Alex in two comps running, did you get more points from him in the second one (ie had you learnt something) or did you get less (ie had he learnt anything about you?).

Mr long sword
-21st January 2008, 21:14
Thats a good plan...Take all the top 50 fencers who are serious and can make the commitment and put on a high quality training camp 3 times a year..pay 2 or 3 top coaches, a physio etc....I'll pay for that...
I think going to the french domestics 1 or two of the satallites and germany is also a good idea.. Helen Fairhead got a 32de against the french no:2 at the weekend, how good is that...? These are world class fencers...The only way fencers outside the top 12 can get this experience is by going to where the best fencers are.. In amsterdam Nat Lewis had a de with a guy that was top 30 in the world, great experience...
Lets start to arrange training trips to hungary etc..
I plan to train out there 3 times a year, do all the french open circuit and 2 satallites...If I can do it most others can..
Oh yes...coach carson made great point : Its the fencers who are not on the pathway programme who need to keep those who are on their toes..

Ronald Velden
-21st January 2008, 21:41
I am afraid that you have misunderstood what I am saying.

TRAINING

Of course you need to train alongside better fencers than yourself, but you
also need to train in a better culture than is on offer in Britain. Many years
ago when my daughter was fencing internationally I recognized the problem
Fencing in this country is limited and claustrophobic at top level and you
need sometimes fresh challenges.

For the record I made the same recommendation to Richard Kruse before
Athens and when changes were made to Foil. The first time he did not take
the advice but on the second occasion he did and he was able to freshen
up for four months in Budapest whilst taking at the same time a Coaching
Diploma.After a while you become stale

COACHES

Noone suggests that the coaches at Brentwood are not very good, but
one of the key differences between coaches in Britain and elsewhere
is that they have first hand experience of winning on a regular basis
medals. It is why I have just recruited Matthieu Gourdain to spend
three weeks at our club from today. He has first hand experience of
a successful programme as well as being a double Olympic Silver Medallist
and World Champion. We can all learn.

hokers
-21st January 2008, 22:30
Hokers, if you fenced Alex in two comps running, did you get more points from him in the second one (ie had you learnt something) or did you get less (ie had he learnt anything about you?).

5-2 first one, 5-4 second one (though it was mr long sword presiding, and I seem to recall having a comment or two about one of the hits)
So yes a definite improvement. Would have preferred to have been 5 and 1 instead of 4 and 2 though at the time. :)

Jan O'C
-22nd January 2008, 09:14
Hokers, that's good - so you obviously learnt something and he was lazy and didn't! Interesting to see what happens when you next meet.

Ronald is right, once you get to seniors, in order not to get stale you've got to go abroad regularly not just to fence your competitors but also to understand their set up and experience their coaching - you can always return to your own coach or better still, he'd be able to go with you but that would be in a dream world.

Mr long sword's idea is also good but you'd have to have 2 things: time and money! In Alex's case at the moment he has neither.

He is doing a degree at Cambridge (getting high 2:1s at the moment so good enough), fencing at U/20 level and also at Senior level both of which require him to be away most weekends and train 4 or 5 nights a week (often in Brentwood or London) so going to any of the additional competitions/training camps suggested is a no go at the moment. Moneywise, he gets an Olympic scholarship which ends in March probably and that pays about half of his fencing costs at the moment but not for much longer (and all of his senior competitions) so the rest is down to us and we have Grace to pay for. He also has sponsorship from Allstar, which is great. So comparatively (against most fencers) he does well but its mega expensive at the top. I would say time is the biggest problem and that's why if he's thinking about 2012 he will need to fence full time come 2009 - it'll be his decision.

Other fencers must have the same problem - very few have independent incomes - if they work to have enough money, they don't have the time and if they don't work, they don't have the money.

Ronald Velden
-22nd January 2008, 10:00
Message to Jan O'C. If you send me an email on ronald@velden.me.uk I will
give you further information. Alternatively you or your husband can speak to
me at Camden International.

Also Alex should speak to Richard Kruse and even Graham Watts
about what I discussed. Graham resisted the idea originally, but acknowledged
to me after Richard's return from Budapest that it was absolutely the right
solution for Richard, because it not only stimulated him but made him a
more mature person.Richard went on to win the Silver Medal at European
Senior Championship upon his return.

Fencers should always remain loyal to coaches, but as I have already said
you do need new challenges and stimulation.

Marcos
-22nd January 2008, 11:06
where will the training partners come from?

i guess there are a few different routes you could go down

1. Have full time squad working together totally subsidised. This is how Spain and a few other countries work. If fencers don't get the expected results, they lose their job!

2. Have regular training camps with other nations. All over the world fencing nations organise intensive week long training in different countries. The Polish with the Russians, the Americans with the Ukrainians, etc etc.

3. Train abroad

Having a full time squad is serious investment and takes huge commitment from the athletes. But, realistically, if that is what everyone else is doing.....

Organising camps with other nations, as the BFA have done recently, is a step forward, but is only a jolt which improves form in the short term.

Training abroad (which I did for a year so know more about) is an individual decision which will improve the individual, not the whole squad. And it's only good whilst you are there, and maybe a while after. 2 years after you get back you'll be halfway back to where you were before

I'm sure Alex and the rest of the top fencers know all this already, esp as Chris decided to train in Hungary for related reasons. Whatever the answer, it takes 100% commitment by fencer, coach, and governing body


Top 50 training camps

a good idea - we hold them in Ireland every 3 or 4 months (well, top 12....not sure if we have 50 fencers!)

good for team bonding, and will improve the general standard of the fencers ranked 20-50, but will do nothing for the top 20 except maybe improve the quality of opposition in tournaments...no bad thing

Marcos
-22nd January 2008, 11:21
COACHES

Noone suggests that the coaches at Brentwood are not very good, but
one of the key differences between coaches in Britain and elsewhere
is that they have first hand experience of winning on a regular basis
medals. It is why I have just recruited Matthieu Gourdain to spend
three weeks at our club from today. He has first hand experience of
a successful programme as well as being a double Olympic Silver Medallist
and World Champion. We can all learn.

Just to pick up on that, similar to what Ronald has said, the UK's coaches are as good as anywhere else.

What surprised me when I went on a coaching camp in Hungary was that the lesson the French WS gave his top fencer wasn;t too different to the one I give my best lads. He is technically better, as is the fencer, but the actual lesson was not a million miles away. So it is a myth that your coaches aren't as good

The key difference is time

What Ronald says about winning also counts, as it is easier to scream at a ref when you have a medal in your pocket

Ronald Velden
-22nd January 2008, 12:56
Following on what Marcos has written there are a number of decent coaches/trainers in Britain, but very few who are in my view of
international standard.

Before Christmas I took Peter Frohlich to a game of football at Arsenal
which is down the road from the National Centre. Afterwards we talked
about international fencing and one of the topics was the success of
Italy a country with a very small fencing population relative to Britain
but the capacity to produce outstanding fencers.

He expressed surprise at their success, because from the Hungarian
perspective their coaches are not particularly outstanding. When
I asked him to qualify the statement he was talking from a technical
perspective.

My response was that from a limited personal experience they were
outstanding international coaches, because they were masters of
analysis,psychology and tactics. On that point he agreed.

Sadly Britain in these departments are light years behind Italy or for
that matter most of the other successful nations. For the record it
is not just in fencing but in many other sports as well.

AussieMongrel
-23rd January 2008, 06:59
Noone suggests that the coaches at Brentwood are not very good, but
one of the key differences between coaches in Britain and elsewhere
is that they have first hand experience of winning on a regular basis
medals. It is why I have just recruited Matthieu Gourdain to spend
three weeks at our club from today. He has first hand experience of
a successful programme as well as being a double Olympic Silver Medallist
and World Champion. We can all learn.[/QUOTE]

I had a lesson at Scimitar from Mathieu last night and as usual today I am having trouble walking, as he pushes harder than any other coach. Not sure if this is the French method, or more to do with him being a double hard French b@stard (well you would have to be to win 2 medals at Olympic level ;-)

I have had a few lessons with him and sometimes it feels like he is testing your spirit and resolve as much as he is trying to give you a lesson. Last year he gave me a lesson at Pimlico and ran me up and down the piste to the point of collapse, the only thing that kept me going was my pride, at the end of the lesson he paid me the highest compliment I have ever had in my 3 years of fencing “You have ze heart, but you are to tense” Of course I was not able to appreciate this at the time as I had to go sit down for 5 minutes and try not to be sick. I was gutted when he had to move back to France prematurely.

I think Mathieu would be good for our top fencers as he would push and inspire them. I was watching along side Mr Longsword him take on Murray, Gildas and Julian in some steam free fencing at Pimlico one night last year. What struck us both was even after a few years being out and fighting for what in affect was sh1ts and giggles he was fighting with what looked like the intensity of the final of a WC. This validated a lot of what James Williams had said about train how you intend to fight at comp. That mentality and strength of spirit and the state of mind where you believe that you are born to win, along with excellent coaching ability is where I could see him adding a great deal of value to the GB elite

But to be fair, bugger the GB elite, while he is out here for a few weeks I am going to try and get as many lessons in as possible ;-) Getting lessons from him in conjunction with Coach Carsons lessons is awesome.

Mr long sword
-23rd January 2008, 19:30
Between city and scimitar our club nights cover the whole week. Both clubs need another male sabre coach...
We could offer a coach 5 nights a week coaching, and who knows what else during the day....private lessons, schools etc...
What say you...?

Ronald Velden
-23rd January 2008, 20:18
I arranged for Matthieu to come to London this year and he is coaching for 3
nights a week for 3 weeks at Camden. Matthieu is an extremely considerate coach with young fencers as well as a good teacher. He is certainly not a ba----rd with them,but then perhaps he has greater expectation of the adults at Scimitar.

What is key with someone like Matthieu or even Richard Kruse who also works
at the club is that our young fencers are exposed to top class athletes who
are not only winners,but first class ambassadors for their sport as well as
good teaching coaches.For the record both are more than happy to work
with beginners aged 7 or 8!

AussieMongrel
-23rd January 2008, 21:40
I arranged for Matthieu to come to London this year and he is coaching for 3
nights a week for 3 weeks at Camden. Matthieu is an extremely considerate coach with young fencers as well as a good teacher. He is certainly not a ba----rd with them,but then perhaps he has greater expectation of the adults at Scimitar.

What is key with someone like Matthieu or even Richard Kruse who also works
at the club is that our young fencers are exposed to top class athletes who
are not only winners,but first class ambassadors for their sport as well as
good teaching coaches.For the record both are more than happy to work
with beginners aged 7 or 8!


Double hard b@stard was meant as a term of endearment, strange as it may seem it is seen as a compliment in some parts. Can I clarify by saying that he is an absoulte gentleman and a really nice guy. What I was trying to say is if I was standing in a line facing down an enemy, he is the guy I would want standing next to me.

AussieMongrel
-23rd January 2008, 22:01
I got negatively repped for my comment about Mathieu and the comment was “what does it add to the conversation other than act as and add for Mathieu”.

Fair play I do tend to blather a bit so will cut down the message I was trying to get across. Having natural born winners that have competed at the highest level around our fencing salles, that can teach both adults and children at all levels the focus and desire you need to make it to the top is what the UK needs

fa266
-24th January 2008, 07:56
Aussie, I think anyone that knows you appreciates your passion and enthusiam. I liked your post, I see the point you're making and your drive to improve things here.

hokers
-24th January 2008, 08:43
Double hard b@stard was meant as a term of endearment, strange as it may seem it is seen as a compliment in some parts. Can I clarify by saying that he is an absoulte gentleman and a really nice guy. What I was trying to say is if I was standing in a line facing down an enemy, he is the guy I would want standing next to me.

Double hard b@stard (positive) and it's counterpoint "Girly shirtlifting tosspiece" (negative) are references to the BBC TV series "Game on":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_On_(BBC_television)
See the episode of the same name (S2Ep3)

I think making the point that his style of fencing seems to include a lot more effort and passion than most is a valid contribution to the discussion, rather than an advert. It goes along with the "winning mentality" discussions above.

Mr long sword
-24th January 2008, 09:29
In france fencing is a well known and well respected sport..
This is somehow 'given off' be the fencers...they know that they are taking part in a sport that is taken seriously...there is a different feel to the whloe experience...
I can't talk highly enough of the experience I had..

Although many of us have working and family lives, we must become 'fencers' as soon as we enter the salle or sports hall..
I am not a tradesman who fences...I am a fencer who works..