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WAO 2013 Reports

 

 

 

After Oviedo...

The UK was represented at the 2013 World Agility Open Championships in Oviedo Spain on by teams from the the Home Countries - England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland. How did they do against some of the best handlers in the world? The team managers report.

 

Team England
Jo Tristram - A Competitors View

When I heard that the 2013 WAO venue was in Spain, I don’ think I was alone in thinking 'Hello sunshine!'[ I, along with I’m sure many others, prepared by buying new shorts and even a cap to run in under the sweltering Spanish sunshine.

Well, we did see sunshine on the Monday we arrived. It was glorious. And Oveido was really quite nice. The hills behind the Team England hotel looked like a good option for a run later.

The sun was still around on the Tuesday when the remaining team members and management arrived and we visited the venue for the first time. The venue was a smart equestrian centre with a huge indoor arena to hold the Main Ring and a good grassy area for Rings 1 and 2. We took the time to get the feel of the place and let the dogs wander around. In the evening, the majority of us went out for a team meal. Large portions, eggs and seafood were the menu throughout the week. Some of us even enjoyed baby eels one evening that were lovely! Thank goodness for the hills to balance out the carbs! Ha!

On Wednesday Team England started to get down to business with the two hour training session - one hour on the grass and one in the sand filled main arena. For Bitz and me, it was an opportunity to run though some short sequences to see how we fared after our travels. Tace, our team physio, had given her the once over and all seemed well. I was pleased that she was running nicely.

The weather had changed a little by now. Showers and the cold were creeping in. The weather continued on the same theme into Thursday with the official training session, a short session which I used to reward Bitzy's start lines, contacts and handling manoeuvres.

Then came the opening ceremony. I was thrilled to be asked to be flag bearer. As we walked into the area, the nerves as a returning champion began to creep in. After what was a thankfully brief opening ceremony, we were back to the hotel for supper and bed ready for Day 1.

Thursday was cold! I repeatedly wished I had packed my feather and down jacket and not my thin shower proof!

The competition started well for us. Bitz did a lovely clear in the first round of the Pentathlon, a huge sigh of relief! No one had quite prepared me for how it would feel as you began to defend something you were so proud of winning the year before. I honestly can say, for someone who actually enjoys pressure normally, that it was hard. But I needn’t have doubted my fluffy girl as she came out and put in a sensible clear and continued to do so for me in our Pentathlon runs all weekend.

We had a few blips in our other runs, but amongst a few others we did a fab team run in the main arena on the Saturday. We had a huge crowd and a great atmosphere as everything had been moved into the main arena for the afternoon as the weather had taken a terrible turn for the worse and the rain was bucketing down. But it was one of the runs I will most remember from the weekend. I had to run last following my team mates' two lovely clean runs. Bitz as ever rose with the atmosphere and did a beautiful run for me in front of a loud crowd. Those are the moments I love in agility and keep me getting up at ridiculous hours, training in the rain and spending too much money on diesel to go to shows.

In the finals on the Sunday Bitz and I managed a Bronze medal in the Pentathlon, not quite retaining the title but still so proud of the fluffy one. Just one wide turn in that last run may have been the thing that cost us, but it goes to show how high the level of competition was and makes me proud to have been a part of it. Particular thanks to Tace for warming Bitz up before every run and helping to else my back throughout the long days, makes such a difference to us.

Aside from my own agility runs, there were moments that I won't forget from this year. I laughed so hard at times it hurt. I've included a picture that I thought was one of the sensible ones and even that was sabotaged! Thanks, Steven! I can't include the link to the Gibson Sequel on YouTube as it might be too frightening, so you are safe there.

On a more serious note our team had some amazing runs. It seemed that we were constantly there to cheer a team mate on a placing. Two of the outstanding memories came for me after helping to keep notes on the Gamblers final on the Saturday night. It was lovely to watch Bridgette face as she was told she'd taken the Silver overall Games medal. She’d worked hard, knew her dog's strengths and listened to Shaun's games advice. The look of joy was infectious! I could go on to make a comment about every medal but I'll leave that to others. Needless to say we weren’t put off by the lack of Spanish sunshine!


 
Team Scotland
Tricia Elms - Team Manager

This was only the second time a Scottish team has competed abroad, and this time, with many of the world's top handlers present and even more countries represented, the team came up against some fierce opposition. As well as the dogs and handlers who had qualified for the team, Scotland was represented by Laura Innes and her dog Kadyn, who had been accepted as a wildcard by the WAO committee after winning Silver in last years Games Championship.

Although no medals were brought home this year, the team came home with lots of ideas on how to improve their handling and training. The World Agility Open is the only international event which allows Scotland to enter its own team, along with the other home nations. Although Scottish handlers are entitled to compete for Team GB at other international events, many find the cost of travelling to qualifiers or collecting points at shows 'down south' too prohibitive and, consequently, few Scottish handlers are able to try out for a British team travelling to, for example, the FCI World Championships or the European Open. For most, the World Agility Open Championships is the only opportunity to experience an international competition and see, first hand, what direction agility has taken in other countries. The experience gained by the Scottish competitors over the past three years can only improve the standard of agility in Scotland, and we would like to thank the organisers of the WAO for this opportunity.

The World Agility Championships is designed to set real challenges for dogs and handlers, and with early starts, late nights and a very busy schedule in the days leading up to the competition, the event is something of a marathon which requires a great deal of stamina to see the competitors through. Although the weather had been sunny and warm when the team first arrived in Spain, this soon changed and the organisers and competitors had to cope with some unseasonably cold and wet weather. Consequently, the schedule had to be changed and classes which should have been held in the two outdoor rings had to be moved into the indoor Main Ring on the Saturday, which made for a very long day indeed.

Despite this, all members of Agility Team Scotland worked their socks off and achieved some amazing results. Just like at any other agility competition, there was a mixture of clear runs, faults and eliminations, as well as a fair sprinkling of 'if-only runs.' The team members managed to hold their own in several events, and in others, they learned a lot by watching handlers from other countries.

Once again, the team's best results came in the Games Championship - much to everyone's surprise since Gamblers and Snooker classes are not usually seen in Scotland. Lisa Duggan and Tig were 2nd in 525 Gamblers and Mark Bruce and Becky 3rd in 300 Gamblers. Emma Jones & Kerri just missed out on a podium place in the overall games results, coming 4th overall in the 650 height.

The events
The World Agility Open Championships is divided into several different individual and team events. The Individual Pentathlon consists of five rounds - 2 x Agility, 2 x Jumping and 1 x Speedstakes, while the Individual Biathlon is 1 x Agility and 1 x Jumping round. The Games Championships consists of two games classes – Snooker and Gamblers.

The Team Pentathlon is run along the same lines as the Individual Pentathlon, but with three dogs of different size competing in each round, culminating in a relay race over a Speedstakes course on the final day of the competition. The overall results for Scotland were as follows:-

Individual Pentathlon:

The cumulative result after 4 round was:

  • 300      17th Natasha with Indie / 19th Emma with Pebbles / 23rd Peter with Dizzy

  • 400      11th Michelle with Reilly / 13th Bernice with Milo / 44th Dane with Cassie

  • 525      17th Hannah with Keeta / 34th Lisa with Tig / 45th Laura with Kadyn

  • 650      21st Emma with Kerri, /39th Bonny with Hayly / 46th Fiona with Fly

With only the top-20 dogs from each height being allowed into the final Individual Speedstakes round, Agility Team Scotland was delighted when two of its 300 mm dogs, two of its 400 mm dogs and one of its 525 mm dogs made it through.

The overall result in the Individual Pentathlon was:

  • 300      15th Natasha with Indie /16th Emma with Pebbles

  • 400      10th Michelle with Reilly / 17th Bernice with Milo

  • 525      14th Hannah with Keeta

The overall result in the Games Championships was:-

  • 300      16th Mark with Becky / 34th Natasha with Indie / 36th Emma with Pebbles

  • 400      13th Michelle with Reilly /19th Dane with Cassie, 44th Mark with Sindy

  • 525      9th Lisa with Tig / 12th Lisa with Dee Dee / 20th Di with Tigra, 27th Laura with Kadyn

  • 650      4th Emma with Kerri, 25th Bonny with Hayly, 30th Fiona with Fly

The overall result in the Biathlon was:

  • 300      8th Emma with Pebbles /31st Natasha with Indie / 33rd Mark with Becky

  • 400      18th Dane with Cassie / 31st Mark with Sindy / 49th Bernice with Milo

  • 525      16th Laura with Kadyn / 22nd Di with Tigra

  • 650      24th Bonny with  Hayly

Team Penathlon
Team Scotland ended up in the following positions in each of the first four rounds. After the four initial rounds, only the top eight teams are allowed to run in the Team Relay Speedstakes. Unfortunately, for the first time in the history of the WAO, Scotland did not make the cut. Even so, the team achieved a credible 14th place overall in the Team Pentathlon.

The team would like to thank their sponsors Kronch for supporting the team and providing them with their team kit. Also thanks go to Lisa Cleeton, Veterinary Physiotherapist who gave up her time and travelled to Spain for the team and made sure the dogs stayed fit and healthy throughout the event. She did a fantastic job.

Once again, we would like to thank the Scottish Agility Community for their support. Without them, there would be no Agility Team Scotland.


Team Northern Ireland
The Irish Trip by Kirsty Jess

After the team selection process and the months of training twice a week, the Northern Irish Team was ready for the WAO. Our team consisted of eight members and 12 dogs, a Manager and an Assistant Manager. There were also a few grooms who were travelling along with the team. We embarked on the journey the Sunday before the WAO started and it took us four days, 1500 miles and many café au lait /con leche to get us there!

Our training day was Thursday at 1pm so we were able to relax at the hotel for a while before we headed down to the venue. Our hotel was a ten minute drive from the Centre which was very handy. Thursday evening was the Opening Ceremony which was great to see all the countries participating in the event and meet the judges and stewards.

It was a very early start on Friday morning and everyone was a little bit nervous. Once we saw the course plans and knew what we were doing, it settled everyone's nerves and we all began to enjoy the experience. Our dogs gave us some awesome runs, and all of us were very happy with them. We may not all have had fantastic clear rounds as we are human and our dogs are not machines!

On the Saturday, some of the team who did not make the cut for the Pentathlon had a long wait and didn't have their first run at 6pm. It was lovely, however, to be able to watch the other countries and see the different styles and techniques that are being introduced into agility.

One of our team members, Catherine Porter, qualified for the Pentathlon with her dogs, Yogi and Ziva. It was great to watch her in the final. She did the team proud and both Catherine and her dogs really enjoyed the experience.

Once all the events had taken place, it was time for the closing ceremony. This marked the end of another WAO and everyone listened with bated breath as they announced where it would be next year... ta da... Italy. Our managers have already started talking about routes to Italy before we had left Spain!

Even though our team did not have anyone on the podium this year, we all had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the experience. Our dogs have been driven over land and under sea and they still gave us 100%. What more can we ask for?! The venue was amazing and the courses were lovely to run. The WAO was a fantastic event, and we all had a great time.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tug-Tastic for their sponsorship of tuggies for the whole team and Happy Dog for sponsoring our kit.

The Northern Ireland WAO Team

650

  • Catherin Porter with Yogi

  • Kirsty Jess with Buddy

  • Kirsty Jess with Jack

  • Louise McClurg with Inca

525

  • Karen Bleaskley with Tess

  • Catherine Porter with Ziva

400

  • Ronnie McAleese with Jay

  • Louise McClurg with Maxi

300

  • Glenn Smart with Dexter

  • Ronnie McAleese with Chi Ro

  • Isabel Trotter with Chip

  • Miriam McDowell with Teddy



Photo courtesy of Thomas Szabo

Team Ireland
Reflections from Diana Collie - Team Manager & Anne Collen - Team Coach

It was a fantastic event, with brilliant organisation, venue and judges, and it just gets better and better every year!

We had a great team of eight dogs and handlers, who have worked so hard, both in training and fund raising. This created great team spirit, with everyone being very supportive of each other during the competition.

It was a long journey, but all dogs travelled well and benefited from arriving a couple of days ahead of time. This allowed us to get two training sessions in on the Wednesday as well as the short, high pressure one on the Thursday.

Though we were never in contention for any prizes, Team Ireland had definitely upped their game from last year. But unfortunately the rest of the world has also upped their game!! Results on paper are not really a true reflection of how well everybody coped.

To sum up, this was a fantastic trip that I'm sure all team members will have benefited and grown from in many ways.

For full results from all classes and countries, see www.worldagilityopen.com

 

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