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aao
-15th September 2011, 16:16
With everything that is being discussed about the Worlds and Europeans team selections (or lack thereof) it got me thinking that maybe we have been looking at these events the wrong way round from the start.

We have always looked to allow as many fencers as possible, both funded and unfunded, to take part at Junior and Senior A-grades, the selection criteria for these is based on national rankings, and the idea is always that the A-grades will help the fencers gain experience/build up their world ranking for the two big events.
The Worlds and Europeans have for the past few years had very tough qualifying standards, they are highlighted as the pinnacle of the fencing calendar, and 2 L16's and a computer/appeals panel saying yes, seems to be the current going rate.

Now I know all the arguments for why we should have qualifying standards and why we shouldn't just let anyone go and all the rest of it, and there is some merit to them, but honestly aren't we just shooting ourselves in the foot by not sending full teams?

Clearly our funding bodies only care about the results gained at these events, publicity wise its exactly the same, the BBC for example reports on the Europeans and Worlds but you rarely hear them mention anything about the standard International circuit. So shouldn't we be trying to send full teams?

Lets look at the facts, both the Worlds and Europeans are on paper (and generally in reality) easier than the vast majority of A-grades, each nation can only send 4 of its fencers per weapon, which means half the Italians, French, Hungarians, Germans, Chinese etc etc etc who normally make life so difficult at the A-grades aren't there.
The comps run on a straight poule and DE system, there is no bye for the top 16 so if you are one of the lower seeds making it to the L64 you are not going to necessarily beat one of the top 16 fencers in the World to make it to the L32.
The lower numbers mean that one DE win will put you straight into the L64, rather than having to win 2 or sometimes even 3 fights to achieve that at the biggest A-grades.

Essentially it is easier to make the later stages of these events then it is at an A-grade.

Based on this, and the fact we need medals at these events to secure our funding and
sponsors for the sport, surely we should be doing everything in our power to ensure that we have full teams at these events and have the best possible chance of getting results.
Sending only those who have qualified might on paper look like we are sending the right people, but less people = less chance of a good result, of course fencers like RK and LH are world class, but if they are the only ones going it only takes an off day for them to mean that we have a bad Worlds or Europeans. An unexpectedly good result such as Phil Marsh means a huge amount for the sport.

Thoughts?

jimcrawfurd
-15th September 2011, 18:42
Couldn't agree more.

JohnL
-15th September 2011, 18:45
My thoughts on some of the points you make in your post;

• Should we send a full team to the world’s Europeans regardless of whether the fencers have qualified.

I say no. (Unless in the case of the Europeans, it's in the UK and we can let fencers gain experience at minimal cost) Sending poor fencers to these events (And A-grades etc) actually hurts GB’s fencers in obtaining good results. If the referee’s consider GB to be a nation of “rabbit” fencers, decisions will be made that will cost our fencers hits and matches that otherwise would not be given. For our fencers to be given equal treatment we must perform at an equal level. There needs to be qualifying standards (we may argue what they are) and they should be adhered to.

• It’s easier to get a result at the worlds and European ‘s as less of the Worlds top fencers are there.

Quite correct. On this basis, I believe there should be no points to be gained at these events. Attendance at these events is by selection, so I believe future selections should not consider these results. It is possible that Fencer A was selected for the previous WC’s, and obtained a boat load of points. Fencer B was not selected for the previous WC’s but outperformed Fencer A through the current season. Fencer A may end up with more points than Fencer B though and be selected in his stead. (I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.)

• Less people = less chance of a good result.

If we had 20 world class fencers in a weapon I would agree (and we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion) however we don’t. Entering more fencers who aren’t good enough, actually hurts the chances of our best fencers. Therefore, Less fencers (can) = better chances of a good result.

I have argued that the WF’s should not be going to the WC’s, I also doubt the wisdom of the WE. I also (as previously posted) believe sending PM to “watch” the WC’s is insane. Further, having 2 world class MS (who are funded as developing athletes) not competing in a team when they are already at the tournament to be equally questionable.
As such, I remain seriously critical of BF’s selection procedures and direction