12. januar 2017 skrevet af Laurence Halsted
First of all I would like to say how honoured I am to be hired as Dansk Fægte-Forbund’s first
sportschef. Creating this position marks an important step towards a professional elite
system in Denmark with the aim of becoming a nation that can consistently achieve senior
international success and produce Olympians. Considering the relatively few resources
compared to many other nations Danish fencers have achieved quite incredible success on
the world stage in recent years, from cadet through to junior and senior levels. But there has
perhaps never been as much potential as there is currently. The passion, commitment and
technical level of the current crop of fencers and coaches provides the foundations
necessary for achieving great things. On top of that there is an incredible level of support
given to the fencers from parents and volunteers across the Danish fencing community.
I have personally experienced the huge difference that a similar step towards
professionalism had on the British Fencing scene, back at the time when I had just become
a consistent member of the senior national team 10 years ago. Back then we had a talented
but undisciplined and unstructured national squad. Senior international results were rare and
we were a long way from any kind of consistency. My team was ranked 12th in the World
and we were at the limit of our potential just staying there. It seemed a very long way to
Olympic qualification as a team. The first step then was also hiring a performance director
who ensured that our squad would train together in a central location. Slowly but surely we
left our amateur processes behind and started the long path to becoming true professionals.
Ten years later, based at a state of the art national training center with a fully staffed elite
program we achieved a long-sought goal of qualifying a team for the Rio Olympics.
It was not a trouble-free path, in fact far from it. There were many changes of personnel, of
governance, of teammates and with each new decision came disagreements. Elite sport is
filled with incredibly passionate people, which is it’s great benefit but also the cause of many
of it’s issues. There is simply no way that such motivated and invested people will be happy
all the time, because in sport there are inherently winners and losers. That is where a shared
vision becomes so important. As long as there is an ambitious yet realistic goal with
significant buy-in at the outset from the stakeholders, then individual issues along the way
can be mitigated.
The vision that I put forward in the elite strategy proposal to Team Danmark was:
To make Danish Fencing the shining example of how to create consistent world-beating
success by harnessing limited resources through a modern, innovative and collaborative approach.
I am keen to hear any thoughts for elaboration of this vision. How can it become more
powerful, more inspirational to our community?
For Danish Fencing to achieve a goal like this it must be done in a truly Danish way. That is
why collaboration and innovative thinking are so important; they link the method for
achieving success to the roots of the Danish mentality. Denmark has always punched above
its weight, be it in geopolitics, iconic design or nordic cuisine, and that is exactly what we
want to replicate in fencing.
With relatively few fencers and coaches we will undoubtedly need to be driving in the same
direction if this is to be achievable. To that end my overarching philosophy for improving the
standard of the fencers will be collaboration with the clubs and coaches who are committed
to working to this shared vision. If there is willingness to work together and also to think
openly about how to make constant improvements, then we will certainly be on the right track.
I am very much looking forward to working toward this shared vision and I’m truly excited by
the potential that is clearly evident here and now in Danish Fencing. The road will not be
smooth, nor should it be. When the goals are as ambitious as ours, challenge and adversity
are the norm, not the exception. And that is precisely what makes striving for the outer limits
of potential so worthwhile.
If you have any comments, suggestions or issues along the way, please contact me at