I've read the blogs here on 606 for a number of sports. For fencing I'm amazed that after all the investment and resources put into certain "funded" fencers, the UK is in the pitiful situation of sending only one fencer to the Olympics this year!
So on the one hand we have Jo Hutchison, who writes here how she has coaching daily with the national coach, she's been given a paid daytime job with one of the top people in British fencing (sounds rather cushy and privileged), she's a "funded" fencer and has written that it's what she's paid to do.... and with all these payments, funding, attention, effort, resources and help she didn't even qualify in Istanbul, let alone get the Olympics and actually "do what she's paid to do"!
And on the other hand we have Alex O'Connell, who doesn't get any of the funding or the cushy jobs like Jo. He doesn't get the national coach, the nice little paid easy job, the daily coaching. No, he takes up his hard earned place at Cambridge University, manages to hold a full time high flying education down whilst training, and he performs brilliantly in Istanbul and qualifies!
Louise Bond Williams, the actual Number 1 in this country, didn't even get picked to go to Istanbul, she wasn't even given the chance to qualify.
So we have no women going at all, and we have just one man. The one who had all the money and effort lavished on her was a disaster, and the one who just buckled down and trained privately did.
This is an astonishing state of affairs. How could the selectors have got it so wrong? I'm even more surprised at the comments from them which refer to Beijing as if it's just a "stepping stone" to 2012. It is outrageous that we only have one young man representing the whole sport of fencing in 2008. I wouldn't put my bets on Jo Hutchison for 2012, if she can't qualify this year at her age with all this assistance and backing behind her, what hope for 4 years time when someone younger and more talented comes up through the ranks? Or will that person not be given a chance?
It's such a pity, as my son has just started fencing and we're all looking forward to watching Team GB on the TV (if they show any fencing!), but it just seems we've backed completely the wrong people.