The Agility World Championships in Sweden this year was one of the most exciting , well organised and fun events I have ever been to. The best partnerships from all over the world, all competing against each other to win one of those sought after medals for themselves and to make their countries proud.
We started preparations for international events early in the year but I’m just going to write about what we did post European Opens in July as that’s when we really focussed on AWC preparation. After EO’s Fame took a week off to recover and relax whist I fine tuned our training plan for the next 8 weeks. Sounds like a long time but that goes very fast especially with a lot of big UK competition in between. I had a fitness plan for me working with Chris Kerton, I started back earlier in the summer and it has definitely made a difference, lots of squats and burpees and other horrible things was definitely helping to increase my fitness which I knew I would need this year looking at previous courses from the judges. Chris was careful not to push too much in case of injuries before the event, so we just went for more maintenance of what I had already done and a few extras now and again, I love what we do and will 100% be keeping this up now. Agility has become faster, courses bigger, course design harder and at these big international events fitness definitely helps….or having trained some INCREDIBLE independent dog skills which we definitely saw demonstrated beautifully this year!
Fames plan was similar in the fact that I felt she was already seriously fit after her EO prep and I wanted to maintain that as much as possible without burning her out. We had KCI and DIN to attend, obviously I wanted to qualify for Olympia but apart from that 1 class I had made the decision all year to stop her in the ring for any poles down the same as I would at training just to keep the consistency up, and after making that decision she decided not to have 1 single pole down! So we ended up just doing our important runs, champ, Olympia and the rest of the time we just did the odd run to train contacts or try some harder weave exits in a competition environment.
After that It was all about training, fitness and keeping Fame as healthy as possible. We had an amazing book this year from the coaching team that contained probably 100’s of previous courses from the judges, so I went through that with a fine toothcomb and had tons of sticky notes all over it with common patterns to train, courses I wanted to set up and areas I wanted to set up and time to see which was the fastest route on that particular course. So the next few weeks were taken up mostly by moving a LOT of equipment around haha. Skills were tested, sequences were timed and whole courses were set up, ones that I knew we would struggle more with.
We met up with the rest of the large team a few times to train on astro turf and once on grass, setting up 2 courses each time to try and get round and I also did some courses with just me, Sian and Dan as I knew we would push and help each other when we needed it. Our fitness also included regular water treadmill and hydrotherapy sessions, conditioning work as well as regular massages with Alison Pearce to keep Fame as fit and in the nest condition possible.
So when it came time to leave for AWC the week before I really felt this year we were as prepared as we ever had been for an event. All this prep for just a max of maybe 70s in the ring! Haha it seems crazy when you look at it like that but luckily this year all that hard work and preparation paid off. We got to Sweden after a 2 day drive and settled into the hotel, went for a lot of delicious food with the team, checked the venue out, did some unnoficial training with the rest of the large team at a venue an hour away from the hotel, then we have official training at the venue on the Wednesday and everything was going very well ready for the competiton to start on the Thursday with Opening ceremony and Team Jumping. I was just watching and supporting the first 2 days, I have never seen such amazing displays of agility, each year the standard goes up and up. The GB teams did a great job, some unlucky poles and mistakes this year but we looked like they deserved to be out there.
So it came to Individual days, Fame was perfect in both of her runs, she couldn’t have given me anymore than she did, the 2 dogs that got the Gold and Silver were just slightly faster than her so I have come home feeling as happy as I possibly could knowing that we both gave it our all and there isn’t one bit I feel I could have improved on. Fame made my dreams of another medal at the AWC come true, shes an amazing little dog and I feel so proud to have her J The jumping course was FAST as well as some technical areas but it was one of the most fun courses I have ever run, and for Fame to get 4thplace just 0.5s off the leader made me happier than I can describe, what a cool girl she was around that course. The agility had a lot of “nemesis” poles for us with a lot of backside slices, I truly believed she would have at least 1 down, but I went out there and didn’t worry about it and handled her as if nothing would come down and they didn’t, such an amazing feeling when you finish a run at the WC and you have gone clear and everyone is cheering, there really is nothing like it anywhere else.
The support this year was amazing, from the people that flew out to watch us in the GB stands to the amazing coaching team that make our lives so simple when we are at the events we don’t have to worry about a thing. I was very chilled about it all this year stepping onto the line which I think helped massively and a huge part of that was because of the amazing support we have when we are over there. At the end of the day our dogs are not with us long enough as it is, I want to enjoy every moment I have with them and just being at the event was a huge achievement and when you think like that its much easier not to get over stressed about the actual results, trust the dog, trust your training and try as hard as you can and what will happen will happen I think we sang something like that before course walking Becky! Hahaha). We are all excited for each other and are so desperate to each member of GB to do well, even if that’s just to achieve personal goals, its horrible and upsetting having to deal with the disappointment of people sometimes but when it goes right it makes all that worth it, to see how happy some people were for me and Famous made me pretty emotional, thanks to everyone who believed in us and was there to support us afterwards, it means so much.