13th January 2012
The fight for Olympic qualification begins again at the end of January. By the end of March we will know which British fencers have automatically qualified for the Olympic Games by virtue of their international ranking and the Performance Team will then select which fencers will take part in the European Zonal Qualifiers in April. These events would normally be the last chance to qualify for 2012 but this year we will receive eight additional host nation places. We recently asked Alex Newton, Performance Manager, for an update ahead of this crucial period and this is what she said:
What are the prospects of any fencer qualifying automatically?
We are still hopeful but being realistic I think we only have a couple of chances now of athletes qualifying automatically. If we can qualify 10, including 8 from host nation places for the Games then I will be happy.
There are individual and team spots; where is your focus?
The focus will be on where the best medal chances will be in both London and Rio in 2016. At the moment the focus is on getting the best results possible at the remaining qualifying competitions.
Will you use all 8 host nation places?
Yes. The Board, following my proposal, have agreed a policy of filling all eight host nation places in line with their strategic objective to win medals in 2012 and 2016. We have been given eight host nation places by the FIE/IOC. (FIE – Federation Internationale d’Escrime)
Are you likely to "blood" any fencers ahead of 2016?
We may select fencers who are on a trajectory to deliver medals in 2016.
You've made big selection decisions; how have you handled those that have been disappointed?
I wouldn't say they were big selection decisions. They were performance based decisions. Those who have been disappointed are those athletes who have in the past relied on going in discretionary places to European and World Championships to make up the numbers rather than having met any qualifying standard. It has been proven in all performance sport that to deliver medals you first have to raise the standards within the sport and then provide an environment that creates the hunger and desire to win. We have done that and hopefully the culture change is to one of winning rather than taking part and getting the tracksuit.