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View Full Version : Keith Smith's Explanation Re' Partial Teams



Keith.A.Smith
-11th June 2006, 20:50
Dear Highlander,

Here goes. We had a policy before my time when we sent full teams and usually after the first round they were spectators. Thus we had no real funding from UK Sport as they considered us not to be serious.

Starting in he mid 1990s we started having qualifying standards(in the face of opposition) for Junior World Championships and not all weapons always qualify a full team. However in 1995 we had 2 world finalists(Sam Johnson and Khaled Beydoun), in 1996 we had a cadet world finalist (Philipe Barbasiewicz, in 1997 Ben Montague won the bronze medal at the Cadet World Championships, in 1998 Tom Benney made the cadet world championships finals, in 2000 Michelle Glisson made the Junior World Finals, in 2001 Laurence Halsted made the cadet world finals, inn 2002 Richard Kruse, David Risely, Tristan Lane and Chrystall Nicoll made the cadet or Junoir world finals and Louise Bond-Williams was 2nd in the World Junior Championships. In addition in 2002 Louise Bond-Williams made the senior world championships finals Our first since 1992 and before that 1985 and in 2003 Richard Kruse did also. This latter two made the top 16 and top 8 at the Olympic Games in 2004. Also between 2000 and 2004 we had 2 Junior European Champions and 2 medal winning teams at Junior European standard.

These much improved results onprevious years, plus a much beter attitude amongst fencers and most coaches and a better relationship with UK sport have resulted in our being awarded significantly extra funding between now and 2009 at present and we hope 2012 and London.We hope with this money we will have the best prepared British Fencing team ever for London 2012.

Uk Sport have imposed quite rightly tough conditioins and they expect us to be serious. We discussed and aporved a new international plan onSaturday at the Board and this will be implemeneted over the summer with up to 84 fencers involved in kine way or another. We will have full time paid coaches for our teams, we are going to run selection camps, some fencers will receive Athlete Personal Awards etc. BUT to justify all this we have to be serious.

Thus

1. A grades are for getting expereinced and getting QUALIFIED!!
2. Getting expereince is important but so is training and getting fit. This will have a much greater emphasis in our new plan.
3. In the past sending non qualified fencers has at times created a slightly tense situation with hose who have qualified taking the event rather more seriously and the others not always even expecting to do well.
4. Euroean and World Championships have to be planned for. You have aseason and you have a qualifying date. You do not then shop around for fencers to take.

So why is it bad to take non qualified fencers?

1. It cheapens the achievement of those who have qualified and done the necesary training and have the necessary skills to fence at that level.
2.Our aim has been to increase our results which we have done. To now say well actaully even if you do not do that well we will take you defeats the object.
3. If we are to be taken seriously by the FIE etc we need to send serious fencers.
4. Nations with a reputation for sending weak fencers get rougher treatment from the referees.(if you are the rabbit nation if in doubt a referee gives the piont against you)
5. We are aiming to increase the training support etc and the aim is for that to increase results not allow anyone who can pay to go.
6. There is an element of PR. If we say we selected x fencers who had qualified but added those who could pay how do you think that looks? We have to show our sysyem is robust but I agre we must cointinualy strive to give more support to our fencers prior to competitins and that is what ihave been working on.

Ulitimately Highlander you feel the system should be changed and the BFA Board and UK Sport do not. We have improved massively since 2000 but have a very great deal still to do. At cadet level we can take hoardes to cadet competitions, at Junior and Senior level we will be able to take 12 fencers to A grades next season should we feel there are 12 who can cope at this level and I repeat no serious sport just takes people with no pedigree or results to a World or European Championships.

Hope that answers some of your questions. As you all know I have worked, with others, to gain this extra funding to support our fencers but we have to use it sensibly. Going as a unqualified fencer to be slaughtered in a first round poule is an expereince both we and the fencer can do without.What we ned is fencers who have expereinbced serius training, are fit, pschologically prepared and well coached prior to their A grades so that they quakified and then go on to do well at European and World Championships. I know it is tough for those who try hard but do not qualify but life is sometimes hard.Remember some nations even abolished some weapons in their countries to concentrate all their resources a privileged few and some British Olympic Spports have alrady decided to completely write off some disciplines. We will be supporting all weapons.

Best wishes,

Keith

Highlander
-12th June 2006, 12:22
Many thanks for taking time to reply to my posts Keith.
I have read your comments and although I disagree with some of your points, I appreciate that you are restricted by UK Sport.

kindest regards


Highlander
AKA
Jeff Kiy

Marcos
-8th November 2006, 08:46
whatever happened to Khaled Beydoun?

I remember as a kid watching his bouts with Harry Lancaster and others - awesome stuff

Aidan
-8th November 2006, 16:13
How about instituting a Wild Card system: one extra place for a person nominated by the weapon committee in recognition of a fencer emerging from nowhere or for a fencer recently returned from injury who hasn't had time to establish a run of results, etc? Though it would be open to accusations of subjectivity.

Foilling Around
-8th November 2006, 17:38
My one problem is with team events. Where we have two qualified fencers then I feel that we should take "the best of the rest" to allow those two top fencers to compete in the team event. I do not however think that the third fencer should be allowed to enter the individual event.

Dalesman
-14th November 2006, 09:59
My one problem is with team events. Where we have two qualified fencers then I feel that we should take "the best of the rest" to allow those two top fencers to compete in the team event. I do not however think that the third fencer should be allowed to enter the individual event.

A great idea that would give the top fencers chance to do their stuff

cesh_fencing
-14th June 2007, 11:55
From Keiths original post - Going as a unqualified fencer to be slaughtered in a first round poule is an expereince both we and the fencer can do without.

How many of the European team have not qualified?

Has there been an official change in policy as regards sending full teams, if Ladies Foil & Mens Sabre has a team, why not Ladies Epee?

tigger
-14th June 2007, 13:18
Effectively, the policy is now to send 2012 Pathway fencers regardless of whether they have qualified, as long as they're not taking the place of a fencer who has qualified by right.

cesh_fencing
-14th June 2007, 14:03
I am actually happy that larger teams are being sent, however the published qualifying information detailed as

BRITISH FENCING SENIOR RANKING SCHEME AND SELECTION PROCEDURE FOR 20062007 v1

which is the only published scheme I have seen and what fencers have been working towards (on BF website currently) there is no special circumstance for pathway athletes.

If it had been made public in the first place that olympic pathway athletes would not have to meet the same criteria as the rest of the fencing world other fencers may have tried to get on the scheme who did not.

Regarding Olympic Pathway specific information I have not seen anything published to say they would get special treatment..

If nothing has been published it would appear that rules have been changed without any announcement, unless I missed something.

In my opinion, if we are going to send lambs to the slaughter (re-word of Keiths original post) we should send teams for all weapons.

As it is - if people have not reached publshed qualifying standards, will any results they make at the Europeans count towards rankings? If so this is blatently unfair in my opinion as the restriction in numbers per country makes European Championships easier than most WCs as fencers will not face large numbers of opponents from the stronger nations.

Does this 'free pass' also apply for the World Championships?

cesh_fencing
-14th June 2007, 14:27
So why is it bad to take non qualified fencers?

1. It cheapens the achievement of those who have qualified and done the necesary training and have the necessary skills to fence at that level.
2.Our aim has been to increase our results which we have done. To now say well actaully even if you do not do that well we will take you defeats the object.
3. If we are to be taken seriously by the FIE etc we need to send serious fencers.
4. Nations with a reputation for sending weak fencers get rougher treatment from the referees.(if you are the rabbit nation if in doubt a referee gives the piont against you)
5. We are aiming to increase the training support etc and the aim is for that to increase results not allow anyone who can pay to go.
6. There is an element of PR. If we say we selected x fencers who had qualified but added those who could pay how do you think that looks? We have to show our sysyem is robust but I agre we must cointinualy strive to give more support to our fencers prior to competitins and that is what ihave been working on.


I feel Keith put it so well at the time and understood their stance. Now how has this changed?

ChubbyHubby
-14th June 2007, 14:51
Regarding Olympic Pathway specific information I have not seen anything published to say they would get special treatment..

If nothing has been published it would appear that rules have been changed without any announcement, unless I missed something.


Probably the bit about "at the discretion of the Performance Director...." in the selection rules covers it. Basically it is written so that they can pick subjectively who they want as long as no qualified fencer is replaced by a non-qualified fencer.

cesh_fencing
-14th June 2007, 15:16
Probably the bit about "at the discretion of the Performance Director...." in the selection rules covers it. Basically it is written so that they can pick subjectively who they want as long as no qualified fencer is replaced by a non-qualified fencer.

But surely all of Keiths 'So why is it bad to take non qualified fencers?' points still stand.

I realise the 'at discretion' is in the rules, however it reads for Worrld & European selection.

33. The International Committee has absolute discretion to vary these
requirements in relation to the actual results at competitions with an overall intention of (a) ensuring fairness and (b) protecting against weak results counting as a qualifying standard.

Cannot see how being an olympic pathway athlete can benefit from this discretion

From 32 The selection group may, in their absolute discretion, take any factors and results that they feel to be relevant into account in making the selection. Fencers so selected, may fence in the individual event, even if not qualified, provided that in doing so, they do not deprive a qualified fencer from competing in the individual.

Is being part of olympic pathway the factor for qualification?

37. For the purpose of selection to the World and European Championships, the International Committee may in its absolute discretion modify the rules for points and the qualifying standard retrospectively where special circumstances affect the result of any particular competition (e.g. significantly reduced participation, walkover result, or minimal entry).

Relates to special circumstances at individual events. So not relevant to pathway.

All in all I would love to get clarification on this point as it does seem a little strange for such a strong viewpoint/policy to have changed 180 degrees over the last 12 months with no policy announcement.

Marcos
-14th June 2007, 15:19
My one problem is with team events. Where we have two qualified fencers then I feel that we should take "the best of the rest" to allow those two top fencers to compete in the team event. I do not however think that the third fencer should be allowed to enter the individual event.

I'd agree with this

Especially if the new team format of 3Wx2 being trialled at the JWC comes in

You could easily have 3 or 4 qualified fencers accross the weapons, but be missing the numbers to make the team

The advantage GBR has over single weapon countries is the relative depth in 6W

tigger
-14th June 2007, 15:30
Read Graham Watts interview in the last Sword magazine for more info on the BFa stance on selection of Pathway athletes for major championships.

Effectively, between now and 2012, qualification criteria for major championships only apply to those not on the pathway, irresepective of results (or indeed ability).

'End Goals' have quickly become 'Process Goals' for 2012...

Disoriented by the moving goal-posts...?

Boo Boo
-14th June 2007, 16:13
All in all I would love to get clarification on this point as it does seem a little strange for such a strong viewpoint/policy to have changed 180 degrees over the last 12 months with no policy announcement.

What do you think it is strange, Cesh?
- the BFA changes its mind and makes up (or changes) the rules as it goes along, or
- the BFA fails to communicate clearly, accurately or in a timely manner?

Neither of these things surprise me in the least... have seen it COUNTLESS times over the past 4 or 5 years :whistle:

I think it is great to see the Women's Foilists in this country getting the support (and I don't particularly mean financial) that they deserve. They, finally, seem to be getting similar support to WS and MF: which seems like a FAR more productive way of proceeding (and I have been advocating for bleedin' ages!). I hope that it enables them to make the most of their talent, determination and enthusiasm to achieve amazing results :).

HOWEVER, Cesh has (at least) two (probably more...) very good points:
1. It is still heart-breaking to see the Women's Epeeists NOT given the support afforded to the other weapons. I would like to see the same support and opportunities available to them.
2. The whole "Olympic Pathway" scheme and eligibility. It seems as though quite a few individuals had a LOT of opportunities denied to them because of the complete lack of communication (and mis-communication) by the BFA. The same goes for the "training partner scheme" or whatever it is called: who knew about that and how to apply?

It is wonderful that a great many opportunities are available to GB fencers, but it is very frustrating to see the subjectiveness with which those opportunities are made available. :(

Boo

Highlander
-1st April 2008, 10:04
I think its great to see a Uturn, it gives fencers a chance to gain experience. It would also be great to see fencers gaining experience and a chance to quallify at the zonal qualifiers later this month.

Ronald Velden
-22nd September 2010, 23:06
Ref: Highlander

I think that age group where fencers should be gaining experience is not at
U20 level, but in Cadets. Once you reach Juniors you are facing top level fencers who are in many instances as good as the seniors and are often full-time athletes. I recall that when my daughter fenced juniors Iris Zimmerman
won a medal at a Senior World Championship and Sylvia Gruchala a medal
at Olympics. Since then Rebecca Ward won a World Senior Championship in
Sabre.Several of the top junior men particularly in foil and sabre have also
broken into top levels of senior rankings.

Last year the BFA offered several men junior foilists the same opportunities to train properly under direction of a full-time professional coach [Maciej Wojtkowiak] and I understand the levels of fitness improved and for the first time in many years our fencers were competitive at that level.

Having said this I understand that the agenda of the BFA is now to raise the game of Cadets as well. During the summer they introduced an Academy camp , which like TASS Camps introduced fitness testing plus proper education programmes.This has been explained elsewhere.

I understand also that there are fundamental changes of policy in selection
of Squads travelling to International Tournaments. They have streamlined
the size of squads by limiting them in all weapons to 15 fencers.

What may not be widely known is that only 8 fencers are automatically guaranteed places by ranking. The remaining places I believe are now left to the discretion of weapon captains.It is possible that some weapon captains will continue to select by rankings, but I know of at least one who has indicated a preference to selecting younger fencers rather than final year cadets if their level is similar and they are considered to have more potential.

I am sure that there will always be some people who disagree fundamentally
with such initiatives, but the objective has surely to be to raise standards at
international level.

Mellish
-12th September 2011, 13:55
So why is it bad to take non qualified fencers?

1. It cheapens the achievement of those who have qualified and done the necesary training and have the necessary skills to fence at that level.
2.Our aim has been to increase our results which we have done. To now say well actaully even if you do not do that well we will take you defeats the object.
3. If we are to be taken seriously by the FIE etc we need to send serious fencers.
4. Nations with a reputation for sending weak fencers get rougher treatment from the referees.(if you are the rabbit nation if in doubt a referee gives the piont against you)
5. We are aiming to increase the training support etc and the aim is for that to increase results not allow anyone who can pay to go.
6. There is an element of PR. If we say we selected x fencers who had qualified but added those who could pay how do you think that looks? We have to show our sysyem is robust but I agre we must cointinualy strive to give more support to our fencers prior to competitins and that is what ihave been working on.

Keith

So, this issue has been kicking around for quite a while - and probably has really only come home to roost now with much of the fencing community - who pretty much think it's wrong-headed. But let's look at Keith's reasoning - which at face value seems to be pretty sound.

Vis point 1. Prior to the appeal, we had at least two very hardworking dedicated epeeists being excluded - Jon and Georgina. The success of the appeal probably owed something to the outrage in the fencing community as much as the clear justice of the situation - but it proved that Keith's own reasoning for partial selection is not applied: working hard had nothing to do with it. I would agree, for example, that if a fencer did insufficient training they should be excluded from Worlds and Olympics - but this has not been the case.
Vis 2. If winning is the criteria for exclusion - we must look at the foundations for success. Participating at elite events is a contributory factor to success. Anyone knows that you need to do regular competitions to have the right level of nervous excitement and a clear understanding of your oppositions and their tactics. Winning should not be an excluding factor - failing to working hard, yes maybe - but this was not applied.
Vis 3. What is a serious fencer? If a country doesn't send any individual epeeists - will the FIE take it seriously? If every country did that, there'd only be a handful of champions competing at some events, and we would be far more likely to see epee bounced from the Olympics due to an apparent lack of participation.
Vis 4. If this is true - and I doubt it - it is a fundamental problem for the FIE and complaints should be lodged - if there is any objective basis for this statement. In any case, it is no reason not to send ANY fencers.
Vis 5. Having winning as a product goal is likely to be counterproductive. The sports psychology all suggests that thinking about winning, or being under pressure to win on the day, has a negative impact. Instead, goals in many elite sports are being centred around doing the preparation - physical and psychological - and performing well yourself, but not winning. The reference to sending people who can pay but haven't done the preparation seems relevant, but as we see from point 1, doing the work is not taken into account - only the winning. Everyone knows that having no pressure to win, on the other hand, can make you perform brilliantly and helps sustain 'Flow' - exactly as happened to Philip Marsh, judging from some of his recent comments.
Vis 6. What sort of PR message does the public get when no-one is selected for men's epee? That men's epee is dead? In any case PR is not as high a priority as strengthening our fencers - and having fencers get international experience is important. The UK is an island, and our fencers need to do more international events and the BF is not set up to promote this even at a basic level: try being a mystery shopper and find out how to attend a satellite event - Search tells you nothing, Events is purely domestic. What PR does this have within the fencing community?

The reasoning for the selection process is flawed for many reasons, and when applied to hardworking ambitious fencers this year has proven itself to be wrong wrong wrong.