This year the International Pigeon Olympiad was held in South Africa in January. Most of the important pigeoncountries were present with two teams of birds:
- A Team with showbirds (so called 'standard')
- A team with recordbirds.
Every 2 years such an Olympiad is organised.
As for showbirds 10 pigeons are sent in by each country: 5 hens and 5 cocks which are graded by connoisseurs and which get marks for the head, the body, feathers and so on. Then a ranking is made.
This ranking points out which is the most beautiful cock or hen of the world, the 2nd most beautiful and so on.
The marks of the birds of each country are added and also a ranking of the countries is made.
In this ranking countries like Slovakia and Germany have built up a great reputation. Surprisingly enough not Belgium, the country where pigeonsport has its roots.
It was so frustrating for them to end so low in the ranking year after year that some time ago they passed for the show class.
They say that the way birds are graded is out-dated as the type of the modern racer has changed throughout the years. The 'modern birds' have become smaller, also the heads and the back of the body but the graders have not anticipated.
Especially frustrating for them and embarrassing for the organisers was what happened at the Olympiad in Dortmund (Germany) in 1986.
In those years recordbirds were also graded by the way they looked and a ranking of them was made too,
Belgian Remi de Mey had a super bird then which was named 'Paula 2000'.
Her record was unbelievable, the best in history. Never before did a country send in a bird to an Olympiad with such a sensational record as this white hen.
- She was entered in 71 races and won 56 prizes in the first 10 percent.
- She won 13 1st prizes in the Combine (a number of clubs together)
- She had been raced for 5 years, in 1988 she was the best of Belgium, in other years, 3rd, 7th and 9th best. That was of about 75,000 fanciers in those days.
She represented Belgium at 2 Olympiads: Dortmund in 1986 and Katowice (Poland) 2 years later which is unique for one pigeon because it means that such a bird has to race super for 4 years as for an Olympiad the results of 2 years count.
Why the Olympiad in Dortmund was frustrating and embarrassing?
To the surprise of the whole pigeonworld 'Paula 2000' ( the best pigeon ever) got the lowest amount of points of all birds that participated.
So she was uglier than the ugliest birds of countries like Hungry, Poland and Cuba which are supposed to be 'developing countries' in our sport.
It must be said though that it was not the showbirds but 'Paula 2000' which drew the attention of the people present at Dortmund
They queued up to have a glance at her. Full of admiration they gaped at this white hen whereas the winning birds in the category showbirds hardly got any attention.
You can imagine Belgian fanciers were upset.
The best pigeon in history which was classified as the most ugly?
Something had be wrong by the way the birds were graded was their logical conclusion and from then on they passed for the category showbirds.
They did not want to be humiliated any longer. They did not want to participate in something which they considered little more than a nostalgic event which had nothing to do with modern racing pigeon. Most fanciers have racingpigeons to… race!
It is so simple as that.
PARTICIPATION OF RECORDBIRDS
How good a pigeon should be to have a chance to be at an Olympiad?
Well, there are 4 categories for recordbirds and the criteria are the same for all participating countries.
a. Sprintbirds (short distance)
Races must be from between 100 and 400 kilometres in which at least 25 fanciers entered at least 250 birds and the total distance of all the races should be 2,000 kilometres at least.
The best 10 results of the last 2 years count, so for South Africa these were the results of 1999 and 2000.
Every country can send in their best 3 birds. Which are the best?
To find out the prizes a bird won are recalculated so that we get a so called coefficient.
This calculation is as follows:
The prize which is won is multiplied by 1,000 and this number is divided by the entry. I will give an example.
A pigeon wins prize 8 in a competition of 1,674 birds.
So that means 8 x 1,000 is 8,000 divided by 1,674 is > 4,78
In pigeonmagazines you can read about these coefficients so now you know what a coefficient of 4,78 means: In a race of 1,000 birds a prize between 4th and 5th.
So the lower the coefficient the better the result.
b. Middle Distance
The 8 best races which were won in the last two years count.
Races should be from between 300 and 600 kilometres and the total distance 3,000 kilometres minimum. The 'coefficient' is calculated the same way as for sprint.
c. Long Distance
The 6 best races over the last 2 years count. Races must be further than 500 kilometres and the total distance over 4,000 kilometres.
d. All Round
The 10 best results in the last 2 years with the following conditions:
- 2 to 4 races of between 100 and 400 kilometres.
- 3 to 5 races of between 300 and 600 kilometres.
- 2 to 4 races of 500 kilometres minimum.
REALLY THE BEST?
Earlier I said 'the best pigeons will be represented' but are these pigeons really the best? The answer is: no. At least not for Holland and Belgium.
The first reason is that the fanciers themselves have to send in the results to their National Federation and not every fancier does so.
Another reason is the strength of the competition which is so different from one area to another. It is easier to excel when the opponents are of poorer quality and the opposite is also true of course: when birds of great quality race against each other it will be more difficult to have a good result.
The point in pigeonsport is that unlike other sports it is region-bounded. That means that a good bird from the South of Holland for example is not in the same competition as a bird in the West of Holland.
With 2-day National Long Distance races this is different of course.
Then birds of the whole nation are in the same competition.
Considering the strength of the competition is something good to remember when importing birds. I got the winning birds which I have because I was aware of this !
When buying birds I always went to those people who live in an area which is known for its good birds.
Good results alone is not good enough as it does not mean much to me. I want to know against whom such a fancier races.
I will make myself more clear:
Suppose in the street in which you live there also lives a real good tennis-player.
Unbeatable in your area. He is so good that if he would play tennis against you, your brother, your neighbour or whoever in the street he would win all the games!
But does this make him a Super tennis player? No it does not !
If the same man would compete in an International Tournament he might lose all the games and be the worst of the whole bunch instead of the best. You can compare this with pigeons.
So not necessarily the best birds of a country are sent to an Olympiad but the birds with the best results which is something different.
Let's present the Dutch delegation for the Olympiad in South Africa this year.
BEST ALL ROUND BIRD 97-5774230.
It belongs to Verbree and son.
The father is an import with the bloodline of Klak and Janssen via un-known fancier Mr Berghuizen. The mother is a 1991 hen. She was 6 years old when 97-230 was born so people who claim that older hens do not give good birds seem to be wrong.
Verbree got the mother from De Wit Bros who were fantastic racers some years ago. They had Klakstrain and many others were successful with their birds as well.
When their pigeons were auctioned they went a fortune and most of the birds were bought by Dutchmen and Belgians as they knew how good they were.
The reason why De Wit never got a name abroad is that they never sought publicity as they were not interested in selling birds.
The Olympiadebird of Mr Verbree was 3rd National Ace at Short Distance in 1999.
In total he won 7 first prizes in Combine against average 1,500 pigeons.
BEST LONG DISTANCE BIRD 98-1481181.
It belongs to Mr van Uden Kivit.
The father is a crossing van Loonstrain with others and so is the mother.
Mr van Uden Kivit is not interested in Short or Middle Distance. He races these distances just to train and experience the birds which are not clocked then.
Like at least 90 percent of the fanciers in Holland and Belgium he only races cocks on widowhood. For Short and Middle Distance the hens are shown before basketing but this is not the case before a Long Distance race.
The reason is that they find it important birds are basketed calmly, not in a state of excitement,
This Olympiad bird is not a winner, his best prizes are a 7th from 5,170 birds (681 kilometres) and a 16th from 4,471 birds (730 kilometres).
But it is a very consistent bird that always arrives in the first 25 percent.
BEST MIDDLE DISTANCE BIRD 98-1584588.
The owner J v d Pasch has a great name for racing hens and this bird is a hen too. It seldom happens that Aces are hens, the bird of de Mey (mentioned before) is another exception.
The father of this bird has no famous names in the pedigree. The mother is a 1989-hen bought from Romain Legiest Belgium.
So here we have again a Superbird born out of a pretty old hen.
In Holland are areas in which you can enter old birds only 12 times, Mr v d Pasch is so lucky as to live in an area where he can race them for half a year.
The hen was such a beauty as a baby that he showed it to a famous fellow fancier. 'This is a super ' he said.
The first 3 races it was entered she arrived much too late though.
When v d Pasch told that to the famous guy his reaction was: 'Get rid of her. Once more we see that we think we can judge birds but we cannot.'
It looks as if the bird must have heard this and afraid of being killed she started a great career by winning 22 prizes without interruption.
She only won one 1st prize against 447 pigeons from 598 kilometres but she won many top prizes.
v d Pasch has another Olympiadbird as well: His 98-528 is the 3rd best All Round.
Here is an interesting anecdote as well.
It got lost as a baby and v d Pasch said to the man who caught her: 'You may keep it, the pigeon is yours.' Some days later she was again back home in the loft. As a yearling he won 20 prizes of 25 races and as a 2-year old 21 prizes of 24 races.
BEST SHORT DISTANCE BIRD 98-1436441.
The owner is Mr Leytens, a simple farmer but a great champion ever since he raced pigeons. The father is a 1993 cock of his own old family. The mother was bred by Ad Schaerlaeckens.
This Olympiad bird is a sensational winner (the best we presented) but he has one shortcoming: now and then he misses his prize, he is not consistent enough.
As a youngster he already won a 1st prize against 4,537 pigeons, later on:
4,780 pigeons - 1st
4,700 pigeons - 1st
1,972 pigeons - 1st
3,353 pigeons - 1st
1,373 pigeons - 1st
5,429 pigeons - 2nd
4,809 pigeons - 2nd
Mr Leytens is again one of those people without a great name abroad.
But being famous abroad or being a great champion in Holland or Belgium are 2 different things. It is frustrating for Belgians and Dutchmen but not for foreigners. Because most of them are not aware of this and you cannot get frustrated of something you are not aware of.
So all Dutch Olympiadbirds but one are 2 years old which seems to be the best age for a widowhoodcock.
In South Africa also figures were given concerning the development of our sport.
They showed less fanciers in Western Europe and more in Eastern Europe and Asian countries. The following list was published.
A positive development in the following countries.
About other countries no news.
In South Africa also a one loft race was held. A whole bunch of birds arrived together but they kept flying round the loft for some minutes.
Finally they landed so the luckiest bird won. In belonged to Belgian Marc de Cock.
In 2003 the Olympiad will be held in France.
For 2005 were 2 candidates: Portugal and Belgium. The committee voted for Portugal. Belgium lost by just one vote (15 for Portugal, 14 for Belgium).
For reasons I do not know the Olympiads are popular in Europe and Japan but not so much in Taiwan
In South Africa the category 'showbirds' was dominated by the Germans who had the 3 most beautiful cocks and the 2 most beautiful hens.
The best RECORD bird short distance belonged to a Polish fancier.
The 2nd, 3rd and 4th best all belong to fanciers from Slovakia.
They had better results than the sensational Leytensbird.
Would these pigeons also have been the best if they were raced in Holland or Belgium? Remember that tennis player in your street!