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BRITISH FENCING WORLD CLASS PROGRAM REVIEW - FINDINGS

14th March 2013

At the end of the four-year funding cycle 2009 – 2012, and after the London Olympic Games, I announced on the Board’s behalf that a review would be undertaken of the World Class Program (WCP). The review findings were first presented to the BF Board by Peter King in December 2012.  We were then into negotiations with UK Sport on the next cycle and the review helped shape and inform those Project Rio contract negotiations.

I can now give members the Board’s report on the Review: the delay in publishing this report is due to those on-going discussions with UKS.  There will be separate announcements soon on the outcome of the negotiations.

Goals - in undertaking this review it was the intention of the Board and the executive to look back on the past four years cycle and identify lessons  -  with the goal of building a better WCP.  The review findings have been and will be used to inform our talks with partners and funders, UK Sport, on the WCP for the next cycle.

Methodology - to provide the necessary background, the WCP Team undertook a detailed review assessment as is normal at the end of each four-year Olympic cycle. The independent insights the Board sought were then provided by Peter King before he took over as CEO.  The Review covered the whole Olympiad, including of course the Olympic Year of 2012 and the unique impact on selection policies of the host nation places.

Findings Summary  -  

Strengths of London Cycle 2009 - 2012

  1. The start of the process of establishing a formal and effective World Class Performance Programme, meeting UK Sport’s high standards.
  2. The infusion of a real performance culture within the WCP.
  3. A fully professional approach to training and competing.
  4. Recruitment of first class science and medicine practitioners.
  5. The further integration of science and medicine in both training and competition to aid athlete development and performance.
  6. Our athletes’ regular use of a high performance training environment at Lee Valley with full length Olympic specification pistes.

Lessons of London Cycle 2009 - 2012

  1. While we met the specific goals set for us by UKS for London 2012, we were not able to perform as well as the Board and members would have hoped at the Olympics.
  2. Communications with athletes outside the WCP and the wider membership of British Fencing showed need for significant improvement.
  3. Selection policies and processes  – both for competitions and for funding – must be more transparent and accountable than in the last four years.
  4. Unity within our sport worsened with the pressure of selection for host nation places. We need to work to strengthen the relationships between the Board, staff, coaches, athletes and members.
  5. Fencers need help to appreciate the levels of accountability and the expectations of them as part of a UK Sport funded programme based on world class not domestic standards.
  6. We must put in place urgently a modern day Talent Pathway, essential to developing the next generation of top fencers.

Key conclusions and actions  - based on the findings of the review, the Board and the executive have begun to implement the following changes to the 2013-16 WCP:-

Stronger coaching structure – members will have seen that a new Head Technical Coach is being recruited to help raise performance standards and drive technical improvements.

Clearly defined Talent Pathway  - we will announce details of our new Talent Pathway once we have finalised details with UK Sport and Sport England.  Already a Performance Pathway Manager is being recruited.

Performance standards  - as part of our UK Sport agreement we have to continue to raise performance standards and results to keep and increase our funding. In the short term this may mean smaller teams, but, as the athletes produce improved results, and the Talent Pathway develops new athletes, we aim to have full teams in all weapons, with the mission to compete and win medals on the international stage. 

Selections for major competitions.  Selection standards for future international competitions will be transparent, clear and published before each season.

Communications. Major changes or significant decisions will be communicated clearly, speedily and effectively to athletes and to the membership.

National Training Centre.  We look to establish a dedicated National Training Centre for fencing within 2013.

Next steps   - there is still significant amount of work to be done and much now depends on our continued talks with the funding partners.  Over the next month the Board will be able to share more details of the Rio programme as we prepare for the new cycle from April.

David Teasdale

Chair, British Fencing

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