Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The European Open - just another Champ show??

This years EO was unlike any other I have been to. I've heard it said before that this competition is the same as a regular champ show we have in the UK; this year it certainly wasn't for many reasons.

The organisation at our champ shows is generally good, this years EO unfortunately wasn't. I won't go into details here, all I would say is I'll be giving the organiser constructive feedback. I would add that this isn't usual for the EO. The organisation and running of the event has improved each year, I hope this was an exception.

Another reason the EO isn't like a champ show is because it attracts world champions past, present and future and the top dogs from across 35 countries. The overall standard of competition across all heights has increased exponentially. The accuracy and speed of handling, the dogs ground speed and the overall performance has moved on a lot since the 2015 competition in Germany.

We took a strong team this year. The strongest and tightest team I have had the pleasure of working with. As a result we had the highest number of dogs qualifying for the Sunday finals we've ever had: five large, two medium and two small. This is a good benchmark of our overall performance.

It would be unfair of me to single out individual performances on a public forum, what I would say is that our handlers competing in the large height category have continued to improve their overall standard. Judging by their performance at this EO, we have at least three dog/handler partnerships in the top 10 of the world. We have a three times world champion who continues to perform at a world class level in the medium category. And the standard of our small dogs has increased in the last 12 months. This height group have closed the metre per second gap significantly since 2015.

I’m pleased that the lessons learnt from each competition are contributing to our performance each year.  The work we’re doing on squad days and team training is definitely paying dividends. The actions we’ve taken on performance distractions have allowed the handlers to focus more on the competition; this is showing through in the results too.

So in summary:

This was a challenging competition for the Coaching Team. Sunday was one of the most exciting finals I have witnessed. Agility Team GB continue to grow and perform up there with the best in the world. Our overall strategy is working. We need to keep looking for for those small incremental gains that when put together, make a big difference.

I'll be asking the team to write to write some short articles of their experience for future blogs.

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