Alexander Romankov’s and Sergey Golubitsky’s Views on Distinctions of
Selection Procedure to the Olympics
Recently our reporter had a lucky chance to communicate with two unique epe-fencers at the World Cup selection phase of the “St. Petersburg Epee” Grand Prix.
Alexander Romankov, the five-fold World Champion in the individual competitions, the legendary epe fencer from Belarusia, had already won that tournament in 1986. In 2008, he attended the tournament as the President of the Fencing Federation of Belarus and a coach in epe.
The four-fold World Champion in the individual competitions Sergei Golubitsky is the Champion of St. Petersburg's Grand Prix. In 1991 he had won, fencing for the USSR national team, in 1993, 1994 and 2000 he was the winner as a member of the national team of Ukraine. Now Sergei lives in Germany, trains epe fencers, whereas in St. Petersburg he makes for the success of his wife Carolina Golubitski.
Tatiana Kolchanova asked Romankov and Golubitsky the same question: - what are their views on selection procedure to Olympic Games in Beijing, introduced by the International Federation of Fencing (FIE)?
Romankov: as I've repeatedly mentioned, as an official representative of the Federation of Fencing of Belarus, I am strongly against this system. During numerous selection sessions arranged in the course of the World Cup, the fencers, coaches and arbiters get exhausted. The fencers, who are in a better physical condition on the day of the competitions, become the winners, rather than those ones, who are stronger in terms of technical and tactical skills.
The best practice of selection was, in my opinion, tested many years ago and was positively accepted by everyone. At the World Cup competitions, arranged prior to the Olympic Games, the top eight teams became the participants of the Olympics. Another four places are provided to the representatives of the four continents. Thus, the true strongest fencers were selected to the Olympic Games. For one more year those national teams continued their competition for the ratings and in the meantime they had an opportunity to improve their skills and develop some new tactical approaches.
Currently, over 120 fencing federations are included in the FIE. According to the FIE decision, only one fifth of the national fencing teams have a chance to participate in the World Championships. What kind of fencing popularization in geographical terms can we talk about? And what kind of unprejudiced selection to the Olympics can take place, if the representatives of all the continents, who haven't got into the top four list after numerous rounds of the World Cup, can compete only for the one and only participation place from their continent. For the time being, there are no strong fencers in Africa, only China and Korea can compete for enlistment in Asia, and there are no competitors to the United States at the American continent. The strongest fencers live in Europe, where 6-8 teams are fighting for the single additional participation right from this continent. I discussed it with the representatives of different countries. They totally agree with my point of view. Nevertheless, the FIE in the backstage takes such decisions, that are presented as an opinion of the absolute majority.
Golubitsky: last time I' ve been fencing at the Olympics in Sydney. When the team of Ukraine has won the right to take part in the Olympic Games, having been enrolled in the top – eight list of the World Cup participants. In the system, being in effect in those days, there was an element of chance as well. One could pull together for just one bout and win from a stronger team. In 2000, we had a lucky chance to compete with a undoubtedly weaker team of the USA to get into the top-eight list. In case we had to face the French or Russian teams, we would never have an opportunity to take part in the Olympics. The existing World Cup selection system seems to be more unprejudiced.
The teams have to prove their skills repeatedly. Nevertheless, there are also some failures in this system as well. Fencers are turned into mathematicians. We could get a more unprejudiced picture, if we could make 16 leading world teams compete between themselves circle-wise. I agree, there is a need to reduce the number of selection rows at the World Cup. As a result of excessive stresses, athletes get exhausted and often injured, their nervous system gets hurt long before the Olympics. To cut down the costs, both, individual and team competitions are currently joint together at the World Cup. Certainly, it would be better, if they were held separately. Thus, the fencers would have time to recover and demonstrate more interesting fencing. But that would involve additional expenses and nobody is ready to that. It is extremely difficult to find the golden mean, but we should make efforts to achieve that target together.