Expectations on athletes at FIE Competitions
Every athlete representing GBR is expected to follow the relevant codes of conduct which can be found here.
Over and above the basics on how to behave there are a number of minimum expectations on athletes who are selected for any FIE event including Cadet European Championships, Junior World Cups and all FIE Senior events. These minimum expectations are driven by a number of factors, the most important of which is that we want to create an environment at these competitions in which all our athletes can be as successful as possible.
This article is written mostly for parents of younger fencers so they can help their children acquire the necessary skills by the time their child is selected for Cadet European Championships (the first major FIE event where BF select a team for GBR) but some parents of older athletes may also find it useful.
Whilst a variety of factors (including the reduction in cost of travel) has led to many parents making the choice to accompany their children (of all ages) to competitive events of all levels, it is important that parents do not end up creating or perpetuating a dependency which will result in poor performances at competitions where parents will be unable to (whether by choice or by the competition rules) provide the parental support service that their child may be used to. And at major FIE events it is usually not the role of the GBR coach to step in to provide those services!
- Personal accountability: athletes are expected to be personally accountable for their own behaviour and understand the codes of conduct. GBR athletes are expected to behave like performance athletes and in doing so act as ambassadors and role models for the sport, inspiring others with their achievements. Most GBR athletes are subsidised in some way by funding provided by Sport England and other agencies which in turn are funded by the taxpayer or the National Lottery. This brings with it a responsibility. (NB Team officials/coaches should not be expected to act as code of conduct enforcement officers or take the blame for athletes that choose to behave badly!)
- Kit (weapons and clothing): athletes are expected to turn up with fully functioning kit, compliant with current FIE rules, and understand how to test, diagnose and fix basic weapon issues with tools they have brought themselves – for more info click here. They should also be able to get kitted up by themselves and pack their own fencing bags. (At some competitions parents will not be able to access the areas where athletes are changing and storing their kit bags.)
- Nutrition: athletes are expected to be able to manage their own food and drink intake.
- Medication: athletes must understand the rules on anti-doping. Athletes must also take personal responsibility for taking their own medication and TUEs may be required in advance. For more information (especially important if you don’t know what a TUE is) click here. The principle of Strict Liability applies – athletes are solely responsible for any banned substance they use, attempt to use or is found in their system regardless of how it got there and whether there was any intention to cheat. Not knowing is no excuse. Athletes are responsible for what they put in their bodies. Use the Global DRO portal to check medication.
- Competition format: athletes should know how a competition is run. They should be able to read and understand poule sheets and tableaus.
- Independence: athletes should not need a parent at the end of the piste to feel OK to fence. It is becoming increasingly common that poules take place in areas where supporters and coaches are not permitted at the end of the piste. And ideally athletes should also be able to focus on the match they fence in without the last question to the coach being ‘Where’s my mum?’.
- Follow instructions and rules: rules are there for a reason, and being part of a GB squad, and participating in an international federation event means following the rules (whether these are put in place by BF/EFC/FIE/Local event organisers), respecting authority and adapting behaviour where necessary. This can be anything from respecting accreditation areas, wearing team tracksuits to not drinking alcohol.
- Understand the rules of fencing: This sounds obvious but far too many athletes are unaware of rules and particularly penalties. This can lead to athletes losing hits and arguing unnecessarily with FIE referees. The rulebooks are available in English, in PDF and as an app.