I would firstly like to introduce myself as the new Head of Pathway Development for British Fencing. My role is to define, develop and implement a world class identification and talent programme that will produce a stream of talented young athletes that go on to become world beating fencers.
My first few weeks have been spent meeting numerous people to get an insight into what practices are occurring across the country and how our new programmes can add value to what is already happening on the ground. I will continue with these meetings, getting ideas of what would be useful to best support our talented athletes, and coming into your club environments.
Our aim is that the programmes we are developing will create the best environment for our athletes to thrive and develop. The focus is on athlete development; not only as a fencer but on a holistic approach, giving them the right environment to flourish and exposing them to world class coaching and support science expertise, giving them the skills to succeed not only as a world class fencer but as a person. Everything we do will be with these intentions at the fore.
We will tap into the expertise within our funding organisations (UK Sport/Sport England) who run specialist talent programmes to assist sports; we will scope out across other sports what they have done successfully, and we will use current research streams on talent identification and confirmation to mould the pathway; but most importantly we will work closely with coaches and fencers to ensure we develop what is right for fencing.
Creating a successful talent pathway through to performance is a huge task and we hope you will be patient as in time we will roll out the programmes across all weapons. But in the short term we have to prioritise to ensure we meet both our needs and the needs of our funders, because without their support we would not have a programme.
Our first stage is identifying the new cohort of talent to come into our programmes. We will be running a Talent Identification and Confirmation (TIC) Programme and a Talent Programme across all six weapons. We have already run some talent assessment days in men’s foil and from this came our first four athletes. Congratulations to Daniel Kiss who has been identified for our Talent Programme, and George Bailey, Jai Birch and Alex Lloyd who have been identified for our TIC Programme. These athletes will now get an individualised programme that best suits their needs whilst ensuring their development is the number one priority.
The next step is running similar talent assessment days for each weapon. We want to get this completed before the start of the Cadet and Junior season and so we have identified the following dates for these days:
13th-14th July – Men & Women’s Sabre
29th July – Women’s Foil
30th-31st July – Men & Women’s Epee
For this first round of assessments, athletes will be invited in based on the current ranking list (June 2013) – the top 10 juniors and the top 15 cadets adjusted to those not already falling into the top 10 juniors. We will send out information about the day to these fencers so please put these dates in the diary if it is applicable to you. We will select a small cohort of talented athletes from these dates, being quite strict on identifying those with the potential to be internationally successful fencers.
Please note that these are just the first in what will be a regular programme of assessments. We are continually assessing the process to ensure we are not missing some potential talented athletes.
Please contact me if you would like to discuss my area of work further and I look forward to meeting you in clubs or competition environments in the near future.
Joanna Wray, Head of Pathway Development
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