The Qualifiers for this year's IFCS World Championships were held at FAB Shows throughout 2013, following which handlers were selected to make up the British team to compete in the Netherlands in May 2014. This was FAB's first year of licence for IFCS so it was very exciting for the FAB committee and something they had looked forward to for a long time. With no previous experience at the IFCS, no one knew what to expect from the Team. Dawn Weaver continues...
The International Federation of Cynological Sports (IFCS) held its 7th World Agility Championships in Laag-Sorren in the Netherlands over five days between 7-11 May. They were the largest and according to IFCS President Steve Drinkwater, the most successful ever held with 17 nations and 178 dogs competing from as far away as Japan and Australia, the USA and Canada.
The Team GB consisted of:-
We were very impressed with the dog-friendly environment at the Fletcher Hotel in Eeebeek where we stayed. It was the best hotel for dogs that I have ever stayed at for a team event, surrounded by open woods and wide tracks which provided lovely walks for the dogs before breakfast and when we got back each evening. It was very relaxing to have the dogs so well-catered for.
The weather wasn't always kind and the thunder and lightening storm on one day was certainly lively, but this didn't dampen the team's spirit and determination or enjoyment at all. Everyone was grateful that the IFCS organizers moved the arena entry inside so that the dogs didn't have to put a single paw outside between the kennelling and competition areas. I certainly appreciated this with Breezer. You have no idea how dirty a beardie can get within the space of 10 feet!
It was lovely having a British judge taking part in the event and Jackie Gardner's constant smiles and attention to detail kept our spirits high. It was FAB's first time of sending a team to this event and it was the first time some of the handlers had competed at such an event so my expectations were not high. I told them all to consider themselves truly on holiday and just to enjoy themselves to the max and they definitely took me at my word! The team were amazing and conjured up the most fantastic team spirit I have ever encountered at this kind of competition. What a pleasure it was to be part of it.
The competition was fierce with Canada, Russia, the USA and the Netherlands all sporting huge teams as well as many other talented dogs and handlers. We only had 11 competitors and 14 dogs without much international event experience but our relaxed attitude paid dividends!
Our first day of competition saw the team settling in, but on the second day we secured two individual medals: Abigail Doxford with Oggy winning Gold in the Individual Agility - she was in total shock- and my Breezer, winning Bronze in the Gamblers class which, as Games classes always make me nervous, was also totally unexpected. For Abigail who had never been part of a team before, it was a huge achievement. Lian Knight with Sonic came close to the podium on the following day in the Snooker with a great run which earned her 5th place while Angela Williams also had a lovely run with Tif and achieved 5th place in the Individual Jumping.
Tracy Runyeard, who ran her husband's Kelpie, Tizzy, was lying 3rd in the All-Around event after their third run – and that was against all the collies. Tizzy was the only Kelpie and wasn't about to be pushed around by the black and white's! Unfortunately on their last run on the last day, she knocked a pole and we all thought that was the end of her medal hopes, When team member Mark Douglas told Tracy she was still lying 3rd, she said ‘no, that was the result after the 3rd round' and was convinced she was out of the running. The results were only posted just before the prize-giving ceremony and there was great excitement when it was confirmed that Tracy was still in 3rd place and had, therefore, won Bronze.
The team event has to be the most exciting one I have ever witnessed. Two of our teams were lying 2nd and 4th before the final team relay event so nerves and tension was running high. Our team GB3 which were lying in 4th place (Lian Knight with Sizzle, Tracy Ryan with Tink and Abigail Doxford with Oggy) had 5 faults which was added to the total time. South Africa which were lying 3rd had 2 faults. Then Team GB 1 (Angela Williams with Tif, Pat Brown with Diva and Matthew Burdett with Bracken) who were lying 2nd ran. All was well until an unlucky refusal right at the end gave them 5 faults. Russia ran last as they were in the lead. Their second dog picked up an elimination by inexplicably running past the tunnel entry and carrying on and going into the other end of it! The excitement was at fever-pitch by this time and there was amazement all round when we realised that Team GB 1 had won the Gold Medal in Team! We were unsure how Team GB3 had finished but when the results came out there was more amazement to find they had won the Bronze medal. What a result! I am so proud of all the team members who supported each other to the full, regardless of whether they had personally won a medal or not. It truly felt like each success was a team success. Well done to all in Team GB!
To win three medals suddenly right at the end of the last day was just astounding. All the other teams clapping Team GB as they left the arena after the presentations was the icing on the cake and there was much celebration when we got back to the hotel that evening.
To conclude there is one little story that cannot go untold since it had all those watching in hysterics. On one of Mark Douglas's runs with Blossom, he made a front cross into the weaves and, er... slightly misjudged it shall we say, and ended up sitting on a weave pole! Only someone as tall as Mark could have achieved this feat, but what was so funny was that he couldn't seem to get off it! The crowd were making highly sympathetic noises as it looked particularly painful and then suddenly Mark started giggling which set everyone off. The laughter lasted throughout the fair amount of Mark's butt wiggle to release himself from the offending pole. Mark was definitely the star entertainer of IFCS 2014!
Thank you to our
FAB Shows are running Qualifiers throughout this year to send a team to IFCS 2015 in Italy next year. So do enter for a chance to be on the team or just for the experience of running a different type of course - you will also be supporting next year's team as £2 of every entry fee will go towards team costs.
First published 1 September 2014