Have I got this right: the FIE and the organisers of the Junior World Fencing Championships competition are happy for us to send a full team to the JWFC, the unpaid management of the GBR squads are happy to spend their own time selecting full teams, the fencers know they have to completely self fund, and decent results from competition in that competition will provide a promotion in world rankings making an easier path the following year, but the paid Performance Director of BF decides they are not prepared to authorise the sending of any fencers at all?
Perhaps it's time to look at the performance of the Performance Director who, despite the GBR fencers at the Olympics doing better than for some years, did not do well enough to get funding from Sport UK for the 2020 Olympics.
When I was in my teens I tried very hard to qualify for the 1980 World Under 20 championships. I didn't quite make it. The selectors sent two epeeists and were torn between me and another for the third place but decided that neither of us were good enough. Fair point, I thought. But shortly after I dropped out of serious senior fencing. It wasn't helped by the decision at the 1980 Moscow Olympics to discourage GBR fencers from taking part in those games.
A few years later I started triathlon (swim, bike, run). There are age group world championships , all self funded. What that meant for me as a competitor was: the qualifying competitions were advertised, anyone could enter them, and whoever did the best would be invited by British Triathlon to go to the world championships for their particular age group. These were all 5 year age banded, and I think 12 triathletes could go in every category, so loads of triathletes could go. There are different event distances, sprint, standard, long, ironman. But what it meant was, it was possible to achieve a dream of taking part in a world championships and wearing 'Great Britain' on your back. I think most of us have heard how successful GBR is at triathlon, for example the Brownlee Brothers. Triathlon was at one point the fastest growing sport in GBR.
A few years ago my children started fencing, and I restarted. I was in my early 50s. British Veterans Fencing had now been created and I took part in a local competition, the 'age group qualifiers' for the (age banded) veterans world championships.
I realised that this could be my opportunity to take part in, and if I trained very hard, to do well in a (Veteran) World Fencing Championships.
I've decided I will give it a go, and am training hard for 2020 when I go up to the next age band and will be at my youngest in the category. I know that if I am in the top 4 in the qualifiers I will go. Therefore I have invested in training, lessons, competed in a wide range of competitions , bought kit, gone on training camps, regular physio. I believe that I am fully supported by British Veteran Fencing. To me, the thousands of pounds a year that I am investing in club and association membership, kit, training fees, competition entry fees, etc etc, (and therefore pumping a lot of my spare cash into various sectors of fencing in GBR) is worth it.
I then look at the other end of the age group in British Fencing, the Juniors. They start in a similar situation to me, having a dream to take part in their World Championships, ideally get a good result. On a good day, even win a World Championship title. They , and probably also their parents, know they will have to invest a lot in time, effort, cash, put other things in their lives to one side whilst they work on putting themselves in the best position to achieve their dream.
But then they hear that the Performance Director of BF won't send them, even if they are the best in GBR. Even if FIE and the World Championship Organisers would be happy for them to go. Even if they fund themselves. Even if the lead of the weapon in the GBR believes it is in the immediate and long term interest of the fencers and GBR fencing that these fencers go.
I ask, what would you do as an aspiring fencer knowing this is the situation? I'd probably do triathlon, or fence for a different country. Or hope the Performance Director of BF moves on. The first two would be in my control. The third one isn't.