Cirencester set to host UK's first ever Dog Olympics
IT MAY sound like a shaggy dog story, but Cirencester Park is set to host the UK’s first ever canine Olympics this weekend.
The event is expected to attract 260 athletes and more than 300 dogs from different 11 different countries, with Team UK entering a record-breaking side of 138 medal-hopefuls.
Event organiser Eileen Cook said the organisers were keen to secure Cirencester Park as the venue. “This will be the first time many of the athletes have visited the UK and we wanted to show them how beautiful the Cotswolds are,” she said.
The event will mark the culmination of four years of hard work. “We submitted a bid to host the Dog Olympics in 2008 and we have been working on preparations ever since. I can’t believe it has come round so quickly,” said Eileen.
There will be nine sports, including terrier racing, gundog trials and heelwork to music. The main event will be canicross, which involves athletes completing a cross-country running course while attached to their dog by a flexible bungee line.
The athletes will compete in a number of age categories, with the youngest competitor aged seven and the eldest aged 60. “We have a pretty even mix of male and female athletes, but we would like to attract more young people,” said Eileen.
She added she hoped the event would help to raise the profile of dog sports in the UK. “We hope that people will come out and support us,” she said. “Dog sports are such a great way to get exercise. They get you out in all weathers and it’s really sociable.”
The Dog Games have been running annually for 15 years, with last year’s competition taking place in Poland. Eileen said dog sports are more popular in mainland Europe than in the UK. “The sports attract much more funding,” she said. “People aren’t afraid to think outside the box and try something a bit different.”
The Canine Max Dog Olympics will take place at Cirencester Park on Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14. Tickets start at £7.50 for adults and £3.75 for children. For more information, visit www.dogolympics.co.uk.