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Welsh Representative Endurance Teams Going Forward

24/10/2023 00:00, I Mewn Blog / Club Notice Board / Road / Cross Country / Fell & Mountain / Trail /

We are committed to providing the best possible opportunities for endurance athletes to represent Wales with distinction. 

In 2023, the Welsh road and cross-country teams (particularly those in the senior age groups) had very high number of athletes not making themselves available for selection or withdrawing once selected (e.g. for Armagh less than 50% of seniors who met selection criteria made themselves available for selection, and once selected, only 33% of males and 75% of females initially selected competed). We also had races where the leading Welsh athletes were not part of the Welsh team, this led to Welsh teams not performing to full potential.  

Upon reflection, it was felt that the high dropout rate was due to the Welsh representative opportunities provided not being in line with the needs of endurance athletes.  

It is vital that we continuously review the international competition programme and the aligned selection process. We invest in athletes across the various support programmes. It is vital that we ensure that our support programmes and international competition programmes are aligned. 

As part of this we want our programme athletes to have Welsh International fixtures as a key part of their annual plan. This is now being reflected in the updated selection process for this year.  

This does not mean that non-programme athletes are not being considered, far from it, we will strive to ensure that the teams that are selected are the best possible team to perform at that given event. 

Success for us will mean fewer withdrawals and our teams competing at the front end of the fields going forward.  

As it currently stands, we will not be using trial races for road and cross-country selections, the current trail races fail to align with athletes needs and race calendars. As a sport we have to be open to evolving the selection process – at the same time this will continuously be reviewed. 

A further change will see standards removed for road races as they only represented the minimum level required to be considered for the Welsh team. During selection meetings, what was then considered was rankings and results of athletes who had met this minimum standard. We will now just consider rankings and results without a minimum standard restricting who we consider. 

We continuously reflect on how we select Welsh teams and will evaluate how the new approach for selecting teams for road and cross-country works over the season ahead. 

Mountain and trail selection policies will continue to host trial races. In 2023 the best Welsh athletes in the mountain and trail discipline turned up to the trial races, leading to strong Welsh teams being selected. Therefore, there was no need to change the selection strategy for mountain and trail.  

Selection criteria for future performance programmes will be released in the next few weeks. In an ideal world this would have been announced before the endurance selection policies. However, due to the timings of upcoming races we needed to release the endurance selection policies to enable athletes and coaches to plan accordingly.  

Steve Mitchell 

National Talent Development Coordinator - Endurance