Following a scheduled annual review, the selection policy for the 2020 GB National Development Squad is now ready for publication. The BMC is grateful for the feedback received on last year’s selection process; all points submitted were considered and evaluated against the purpose of the Squad. This article seeks to explain the main changes for the 2020 squad selection.
There will be six athletes per age category, per gender.
The purpose of the Squad is to develop the talent we have at the national level, regardless of the strength of the field; therefore categories will be equal.
Having six in each category, per gender, means that an International Selection Policy (which will be a separate policy) will be in place for the 2020 season to determine who will represent GBR in IFSC youth competitions.
With the additional places this change offers, the cost of being a member of the National Development Squad will necessarily increase to cover the extra coaches needed to ensure that the quality of what is offered at training events is maintained and developed further.
Pathways to Squad membership
There are now three pathways to selection: International Performance, a new National Ranking System, and a Selection Event.
1. International Performance
Current squad members attending international IFSC events in Junior, Youth A and Youth B will qualify for the Squad by making a final placing; all other metrics for international performance in Junior, Youth A and Youth B have been removed. Achieving a final placing at an international event remains as it is a key metric used to report to Sport England on the BMC Talent Development Strategy.
Athletes who will be Youth C in 2020 can qualify for the squad through making a podium position at one of the specified IFSC promo events. These events are promoted by the IFSC as they are considered to be run to a high standard. These events are important to give young athletes an experience of international travel and international competitions. Whilst some of them include top-roped elements, this is still valid as clipping and leading can be introduced and developed through the GB National Development Squad training events.
2. National Ranking System
Due to the nature of competition climbing, it has long been envisaged that a national ranking system would be beneficial to our talent pathway, and the BMC began to look into this. Any system used needed to be based on the international federation's system with a field factor analysis so that athletes could still focus on attending international events and field factor applied to the ranking would take the changes in field into account at a national level. The national ranking system will now become a tool which is used for selection. During our feedback process numerous parents expressed ideas on how this system could work, but the problem was often the field factor application. We are extremely grateful to Ian Flockhart for his technical contribution on how the field factor could be applied and for helping us to deliver on the National Ranking System. Without his help this would not have been possible, this system will be an invaluable asset to the BMC Talent Development Pathway.
Each year the rankings will be reset and new field factors applied via the rankings from the selection event. The national ranking system cannot roll year on year like the IFSC Senior system due to the changes in an athlete’s category as they increase in age. This does mean that all athletes – even if selected via routes 1) and 2) above – will need to attend the Selection Event as it will establish their start ranking for the following season and it will provide video footage for technical and tactical profiling, which takes place as part of the Sport England Talent Development strategy.
The new National Ranking System will go live on Tuesday 12 March 2019 on the BMC website. Athletes will be able to see their individual rankings on a live spreadsheet and all competition results. The National Ranking System applies a field factor to account for changes in the field. More details on this will be published when it goes live.
In Junior and Youth A the first ranked Lead, Boulder and Combined athletes will be selected. If they have already qualified through International Performance, selection will not roll down to take second ranked athletes and below.
At Youth B and Youth C the first and second ranked athletes will be selected from the combined national ranking.
The ranking system is new this year and does take into consideration the 2019 squad selection event and the first two national events that have taken place. This was considered carefully but due to the overwhelming feedback that a ranking system needed to be in place for the 2020 season, it was decided it needed to be implemented, but used conservatively to begin with.
In addition to the above, the first placed Youth D athlete in the 2019 Youth Climbing Series Grand Final (providing they meet the minimum age requirement for the GB National Development Squad 2020) will be selected, providing the maximum category size has not been reached.
3. Selection Event
Any remaining category places will be filled by a two-day Selection Event. The Selection Event results will also count towards the following season as they will set the new field factor for the following year, meaning therefore that if an athlete does not qualify for the GB National Development Squad their result at the Selection Event still contributes towards their start ranking and therefore potential selection the following year. It will also mean that all technical and tactical profiling can be done from this event through the use of the excellent videos produced by the video team.
Selection Event: Day One will be Boulder and Day Two Lead and Speed. The weighting of the different climbing disciplines remains 45% Boulder, 45% Lead and 10% speed, but the event will use the official speed route where possible and an adapted version for the younger athletes (so that there are no issues with reach). Times will now be ranked instead of using time banding and event rank points awarded in the same way as the lead and boulder events.
The date and location of the Selection Event is being finalised and will be released ASAP with further details of the format.
The GB Climbing Team is supported by the BMC, Mountaineering Scotland, and Rock Over Climbing. The GB Paraclimbing Team is supported by Oakwood Climbing Centre and Quay Climbing Centre. The GB Ice Climbing Team is supported by Montane. Many UK walls also support the British Climbing Team through free or subsidised entry.
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