The purpose of this page is to provide guidance on discretionary selection.

Last Updated: 01/08/2023

On this page:

  1. Introduction to Discretionary Selection (when is it used, how can I prepare)
  2. Discretionary Selection Forms (when and how to use them)
  3. Post Selection (what happens next, will I get feedback)
  4. FAQs


1. Introduction to Discretionary Selection

Discretionary selection refers to the process of choosing athletes based on subjective criteria, rather than purely objective measures such as ranking.

The majority of GBR selections or international entry allocations are not discretionary. They are based on qualification standards (e.g. average %age finishes for major events), rankings (e.g. top 8 for Junior/Senior FIE World Cups and Grand Prixs) or first-come, first-serve entry based on minimum ranking eligibility (e.g. Satellites, EFC U23 Circuit) as laid out in the GBR Selection Policy.

If you are seeking discretionary selection for any event you should:

  • Know which event you want to be selected for
  • Read the Selection Policy for that event
  • Understand the discretionary criteria and factors for that event
  • Note the applicable deadlines for that event – (midnight 2 weeks before any published selection date unless otherwise stated).
  • Keep your IADP up to date
  • Understand when it is necessary to complete a Discretionary Form

Start by familiarising yourself with the selection and discretionary criteria outlined in the selection policy. While discretionary selection allows for subjective judgment, review the factors that the selectors consider. Knowing what factors are valued will give you an idea of what to focus on.

BF uses a discretionary process to consider athletes for FIE/EFC international events in the following situations:

  1. Potential Performer – already showing the potential to develop at the international level (as an individual or as part of a team), or
  2. Returning Performer – returning from a significant period of absence where an athlete has previously demonstrated an appropriate level of performance at international competitions.


1b. Potential Performer

Potential Performers are those athletes already showing the potential to develop at the international level (as an individual or as part of a team)

Two areas of work within the Athlete Development Programme (ADP) are being used to further evidence potential:

  • Performance Tracking – BF has established an online athlete performance-tracking system available to all, including athletes, parents, coaches and selectors.  Athletes can (and are encouraged to) use this system to provide feedback information to selectors about each competition- when they compete as an individual (see here) and when they participate as a team (see here).
  • Individual Athlete Development Plans (IADPs)/Athlete Assessments (AAs) – currently being rolled out across the ADP, updated IADPs/AAs will be the mechanism by which athletes are expected to keep the ADP and, in turn, the selectors up to date with their competition, training plans and development needs.

In addition to the above Selectors will have access to:

  • FIE & EFC Ranking Lists
  • International performances against standards : Cadet, Junior, U23, Senior
  • BF Ranking Lists

As a result, the ADP and Selectors can access the information required to make discretionary selections for Potential Performers and athletes are not required to complete a separate Discretionary Form.

1c. Returning Performers

Returning Performers are those athletes returning from a significant period of absence where they have previously demonstrated an appropriate level of performance at international competitions.

These are athletes for whom:

  • Their recent performances were impacted by illness, injury, pregnancy, significant life-changing events or periods of absence*, and
  • They have previously demonstrated appropriate/qualification performance levels at relevant international competitions.

*Significant life-changing event or period of absence:

  • Includes: If an athlete does not have British Nationality at the point of the National Championships but subsequently receives British Nationality.
  • Does NOT include: Moving to a different coach/club/country, changing vocation or educational institutions, as this is expected to be managed by athletes and their personal coaches and reflected in the athlete IADP

Returning athletes are required to complete Discretionary Application Forms.


2. Discretionary Application Forms

In this section:

  • When to complete a form
  • Deadlines
  • Automatic Rejections
  • Unsuccessful Applications (Returning Performers)

From 2023-24, Discretionary Application Forms will only be accepted for Returning Performers.

Application Receipts – When you complete the form you have the option of having a copy sent to yourself. We strongly recommend that you do this and keep it for your records. The BF smartsheet system will also generate an automatic confirmation (please check your junk folders and if necessary add the BF smartsheet sender to your safe send lists)

Deadlines: Unless otherwise stated, the deadline for completing the Discretionary Application Form continues to be

  • For nominated selection events – two calendar weeks before the selection point OR
  • For development or non-nominated international events – the BF entry deadline.

BF entry deadlines and selection points are posted on the GBR Calendars.

If your previous international performances and trajectory data show that you are on track to qualify AND something significantly unexpected happens at the last tournament – illness, injury – you can submit after the deadline. You should get in contact with the Weapon Lead if you are ill or injured, if they are not at the competition already. The selectors may wish you to provide a doctor’s certificate to show fitness to fence if the competition being selected for is imminent.

Automatic Rejections: The ADP will automatically reject Discretionary Application Forms under the following circumstances:

  • Athlete already ranked in the required automatic selection places for the competitive age category.
  • Received after the deadline.
  • Submitted without the appropriate IADP or Athlete Assessment attached (Nominated events).
  • Used as an expression of interest to compete internationally, or any other purpose not in accordance with the procedure described above.

Selection Notifications –  Unsuccessful Returning Performer applications will be sent an email (via the Smartsheet process, so please check junk and add to safe send lists).

Unsuccessful Applications – returning performers  – On behalf of the selectors the ADP will arrange to provide feedback to athletes that have completed a valid request for a discretionary consideration based on a Returning performer basis but not been selected.

3. After Selection - Announcements and Feedback

Selection Announcements – You can sign up here for the BF Friday email “The Fencing Digest” which will contain the announcement. Or you can bookmark the following pages and check them according to the selection calendars.

GBR Senior Selection Announcements – BRITISH FENCING

GBR Junior Selection Announcements – BRITISH FENCING

GBR Cadet Selection Announcements – BRITISH FENCING

Feedback – Unless an athlete has submitted a valid Returning Performer application for, (see above), athletes will only be given feedback at the time of selection if they have met the qualification standards (typically major events only).

The primary route for Potential performers to better understand how they can successfully achieve a discretionary selection (other than following the information laid out on this page) is through the IADP review process.

You will be given an opportunity for feedback just after selection is announced only in the following circumstances (this will be offered through a personal coach or parent if athlete is U18):

  • You have submitted an up to date IADP, and
  • You have achieved the qualification standard and someone has been selected through the discretionary process who hasn’t, or
  • You have demonstrably/significantly stronger international performance data than another athlete (If you need help understanding performance data please in the first instance ask your personal coach.)

For major events, we will try to contact those athletes (or parents/coaches if U18) that were very close to being selected but missed out, prior to a selection being announced. Timescales are short and if we cannot reach people at this time we will still go ahead and make the announcements.

For other selections, you can ask for feedback which will be given in the context of your IADP. Athletes without IADPs should focus on building an IADP before seeking feedback on individual selection decisions.

Please note: Once major event selection is announced there is a significant volume of administration for BF. The right time to have a discussion if you are expecting selection despite not meeting qualification standards OR despite having a poorer international performance record than those also in contention is in advance of selection, with your personal coach and with the ADP.

 Continuous Reviews should a discretionary place be awarded to an athlete, via the ADP or through the application process, BF and the selectors will continuously review the development of that athlete to determine whether further discretionary opportunities should be awarded. Performances can be reviewed after one single event or several performances. For example, should an athlete fail to gain promotion out of the poules on a few occasions, this may indicate that they are not ready to compete at this level and would be encouraged to compete at a more appropriate level

FAQ: I want to fence in a Junior or Senior World Cup or Grand Prix? How can I make sure I am selected.

Be in the top 8 of the BF Rankings and eligible at the Selection Point. (For more info on eligibility and how rankings are setup, read the Selection and Ranking Policies and if you are having trouble understanding these please sign-up to the BF webinars on this topic.)

Unless specifically stated otherwise in the Selection Policy, for discretionary selections the selectors are not bound by an athlete’s BF ranking or any other ranking when choosing that athlete, although it may form part of the consideration for selection.

FAQ: What happens in situations where there are more Potential and Returning performers than there are discretionary places available?

In situations where there are more Potential and Returning performers than there are discretionary places available (Team or Individual), the ADP will propose discretionary places guided by the Weapon Strategy and/or the needs of the Team event, the Selectors will ultimately decide on the appropriateness of that nomination. The full list of discretionary factors that can be used is published in the selection document. If there are any to be prioritised these are often announced in advance (through news posts and the competition webpage) and these can vary from major to major depending on the individual competition and the weapon strategy.


FAQ: Are there age limits for Potential Performers?

Currently there is no age limit to a fencer being able to receive a Potential Performer discretionary place. In future seasons it is anticipated that in the Senior World Cup/Grand Prix selections, Potential Performers will be restricted to those athletes in the U23 age category. Athletes no longer in this age group would be expected to be able to achieve a top 8 BF Senior Ranking and be selected for Senior World Cups and Grand Prix on merit (or as a Returning Performer)

FAQ: Does an unqualified athlete need to complete Discretionary Application Form to be considered for a Discretionary place?

Selectors can consider any eligible athlete for a discretionary place following the published Selection Policy. The choice of which athletes to consider will be guided by published performance data (individual and team), IADP reviews and Weapon Strategy (more information will follow on this).

Unqualified athletes may be requested to confirm availability for the event before selection, and all athletes will be reminded to update their IADPs before the selection point.

FAQ: I'm not a returning performer - shall I just complete a Discretionary Application Form anyway?

No. Where athletes, coaches or parents complete Discretionary Application Forms not complying with the process they will receive a decline message with standard text.

There may be certain selections where discretionary application forms are specifically requested  (eg Olympic Zonal Qualifying Events) but unless this request is made (eg via email, through a news post or on the BF website) you should not be completing this form.


FAQ: Do I need to put in a Discretionary Application Form If I have met qualification standards?

No you don’t.

In the case that more athletes qualify than qualification spaces available selectors will consider all athletes who achieved the standard, irrespective of whether they submit a form.

You should ensure that the ADP has an up to date copy of your IADP (more information about these and how to send them in here).


FAQ: Who is responsible for my IADP?

It is ultimately the athlete’s responsibility to keep their IADP up to date, and to submit post competition feedback via the two forms to ensure selectors have all of the information they need to make decisions around discretionary selections. If an athlete has ambition to compete at an elite level for GBR, their habits and engagement with all elements of their personal development is expected to match those ambitions.

Athletes whose early season performances are getting close to qualification standards with a positive performance trajectory are strongly encouraged/expected to book in for IADP reviews with their Personal Coach and a member of the ADP team; this ensures that any gaps in the IADP or understanding of routes to selection can be addressed early. The responsibility to request a review meeting lies with the athlete, noting that these meetings will not be scheduled in the four-week window before major event selections.


FAQ: How can I increase my chances of (discretionary) selection?

  1. Performance Excellence: The foundation of any selection is evidence of performance. To increase your chances of being considered, focus on consistently achieving outstanding results. Regardless of the selection process, consistency in your performance is crucial. Ensure that you consistently train and compete at your best level. Demonstrate your skills and abilities consistently over a period of time, not just in isolated instances. Consistency builds trust and confidence in your capabilities.
  2. Seek feedback and improvement: Actively seek feedback from your coaches and ADP Coaches. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and work on improving them. Show a willingness to learn, adapt, and grow as an athlete and reflect this though reviewing and updating your IADP regularly.
  3. Communicate your goals: Take the initiative to communicate your goals via your IADP. Through engagement with the ADP programme share your commitment to fencing, your desire to be selected, and your dedication to personal growth.
  4. Be patient and resilient: selection can be unpredictable, and sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may not be selected. It’s important to stay patient and resilient in the face of disappointments. Use setbacks as fuel to work harder and prove yourself in the future.

Remember, discretionary selection is subjective, and the decisions made are ultimately out of your control. Focus on what you can influence: your performance, professionalism, and dedication to your fencing. By consistently striving for excellence and maximising your opportunities, you increase your chances of being selected for milestone opportunities in your fencing career.










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