British Fencing's summer of upheaval
Britain's fencers haven't known anything like it. In the past two months, their training has been revolutionised - and doubled.
"I've never trained this hard in my whole life," says Richard Kruse, Britain's best bet for a medal at London 2012, as he takes a break during a week of preparation for next week's World Championships in Sicily.
"By the time the World Championships come, I'll either be dead or a gold medallist."
British Fencing would prefer the latter. A medal of any colour at senior world level has been beyond Britain since the 1960s.
In May this year the governing body hired a new performance director, Alex Newton, to put things right.
Newton wasted no time making resounding changes: tougher training, more sport science, a new base at Lee Valley in north London, and a new selection policy for major events.
"I'm showing the results in training. The scores are good," says Kruse. "We've beaten the Japanese three times recently and those guys are world-class. They came third at the last World Championships [where Britain finished nowhere near the medals] so, if we can do that, then the podium is in sight this year."
Richard Kruse is Britain's highest-ranked fencer. Photo: Getty Images
Kruse's foil fencing team-mate Laurence Halsted agrees.
"We can see the benefits already," says Halsted. "Now I'm fitter and stronger: my legs are more powerful, so I feel I can be a lot more agile and fight with a real tenacity that I didn't used to have.
"Having had two championships go by without medals - the Worlds and this year's Euros - it would be amazing to have this hard work pay off. I want to have something to celebrate, not another devastating disappointment."
And yet devastating disappointment is exactly what a different group of fencers felt, watching these changes unfold.
One of Newton's least popular decisions, albeit one taken at the head of a selection committee, was to omit epee fencer Jon Willis from the team for the World Championships. Willis and Kruse are the only British fencers in the last two decades to have won major senior events.
Newton says: "The issue is what real, top-class performance looks like. Is being number one in Britain good enough? Will it win you an Olympic medal?"
Put more bluntly, the new policy meant if you can't challenge for medals on the world stage or are not on an upward trajectory towards that point, don't expect to be selected.
Willis may have won a major event, but it was in 2007 and he has done little since. His backers argue epee is an unpredictable sport and he always has a chance of winning on the day, plus he hasn't had the backing he should. Others say his continued selection takes up space and money that fencers with a brighter future could better use.
However, following his omission, emails began to reach BBC Sport from young fencers, their friends and parents. All demanded anonymity.
One parent said: "My child feels completely demoralised, ignored and let down by British Fencing."
A top young British fencer wrote: "It is a little demoralising to see senior fencers working their bums off this Olympic year, only to be denied the opportunity to compete.
"It sends the message that if I work hard, get to the top of the rankings and get decent foreign results, there's still no guarantee I would be selected."
In response, Newton holds up British Cycling as the example to follow.
"The cycling team made some pretty difficult high-performance decisions about which athletes they did and didn't send to events, very early on, in 1997 and 1998.
"The only reason we are being funded now is because London is hosting the Games. What we have to do with this opportunity is say to [funding body] UK Sport, 'We can deliver medals for you.'
"The clock is counting down fast to 2012 and I can see what we need to do, but we've got to do it at breakneck speed.
"You have to try to take people along with you but that's a challenge in a sport with 10,000 members."
Newton's "no-compromise" stance on selection is a common one, shared by UK Sport and a host of other sports.
But the problem is communication with the wider sport. If the same policy leads younger fencers to feel demoralised and overlooked at a critical stage in their careers, that could be dangerous.
After all this, Willis is now preparing to fight at the World Championships. He was reselected to the team last month following a successful appeal.
"We didn't have to pick him," insists Newton. "There was no defeat, or mistake. The appeals panel sent it back to us and we reconsidered.
"I'm absolutely fine with Jon going to the Worlds. I know people think I'm not."
Next week's World Championships will be the first major test of Newton's fencing philosophy, having barely taken her post by the time of July's Euros.
If Britain's fencers bring back a medal from Sicily, it will go a long way to justifying this summer's upheaval. In several years, it may well fade to a distant memory.
The best senior fencers are clearly already reaping the rewards. For now, young fencers wait to be shown that the new programme creates success rather than limiting opportunity.