Marcy & Stripe
Marcy Mantell & Stripe
It is hard to believe, but, last fall I competed for the 7th time at the FCI Agility World Championships in Sweden. My six prior years were 2007-2012, when I had the honor to proudly represent the USA with my Sheltie, Wave. And, this year, I was proud to represent for the first time with Stripe. Now, it would be easy to think all the years with Wave would have dulled my experience with Stripe. But, they had not, as no two years were ever alike. Each one was unique always offering different teammates, countries, judges, courses, arenas, agility competitors, good runs, bad runs, supporters, sights, landscapes, foods, weather conditions, hotels, transportation, and, so, the list goes on and on. And, of course all of them have left me with a life time of incredible memories.
But, “What makes the FCI Agility World Championships special?”. I have been asked this question more times than any other. And, I always hesitate to answer, because I am not sure my words alone can truly describe the experience properly. But, if I were to try I would start with these reasons; The flow of emotion of pride representing your country during both the Opening and Closing ceremonies. Listening to your country’s National Anthem, while standing on the podium. The silence, which falls upon each handler when they step to the line. All of the arena’s eyes on you in the “center ring”. The cheers for an amazing run or the clapping for a wrong course. The music, the dancing, the cow bells, the horns, the waving flags, and your teammates screaming your name from the stands. And, of course, let’s not forget the nerves walking into the holding box or the final breath you exhale before stepping to the line”. I kid you not, the AWC is a true, emotional roller coaster. The preparations, both mental and physical go on for months before the competition. And, when you finally arrive all the stress from the last few days before departure subside, and your focus makes a big shift. The excitement of taking your first step into the arena to see the newly unrolled turf, the equipment, the lights, and, the empty stands. It is just a pure wave of joy, which always brings a big smile to my face, and, an unmatched feeling inside yet to be duplicated.
So, if you aspire to compete at AWC or are an agility fanatic do not hesitate to buy your ticket, and pack your bags. I highly recommend making the journey to Europe to experience it in person. You will be immersed in the most amazing 4 days of Agility from either the stands or on the floor. But, I promise, you will leave inspired, motivated, and, in awe of all the incredibly talented handlers you just watched in person from all over the world. But, keep in mind, you may find one trip is not enough, and, you will already be packing in your mind for next year. Enjoy!
And, one more huge thank you to J & J Dog Supplies for their continuing support for Team USA. Are you interested in learning more about the AWC? I am very happy to share my experiences in greater detail, so, please feel free to contact me directly: [email protected]