Susannah Chalmers and her Papillon Arran have been competing as part of the UK team in the ParAgility World Championships. Find out how they got on.
We had an early start for the first day of competition at the championships. This was a jumping round and we had to be ready to walk the course at 9.30am.
With the competitors having varying disabilities, we were given a generous two hours for this. There were seven groups in total, from wheelchair users to visually and hearing impaired competitors, those requiring support, and those who had slight mobility impairments — Arran and I were in this group.
The course was lovely. Challenging in parts (after all this was the world champs) but I felt perfectly doable for my clever little man, and for me to navigate him safely to the finish.
We were number 131 to go, so had quite a wait until our turn. I can honestly say the excitement and nerves do take over, and I was glad when we were eventually called into the chute, and onto the start line.
Arran was so excited, eagerly wanting to run and jump, and to hopefully showcase some of his incredible skills! The whistle blew, and off we went — 18 obstacles, including jumps, tunnels, and weave poles lay in front of us; the object to negotiate them all cleanly and correctly within the course time.
All my nerves suddenly disappeared. I was doing exactly what Arran and I had trained hard for and loving every moment! Flying through the finish, we were clear! More than I could have wished for! The applause and support from my fellow Team UK team mates was just amazing!
The wait was almost too much to bear as the class came to a close and the results were calculated. My plan and dream was a clear round at such a huge event, so to be awarded the Individual bronze medal overall was a complete shock. We had done it! The first Team UK podium place and medal. I was literally on cloud nine; my super special boy had shown the world just how talented he is. He knew it was a big one, spinning around and barking with excitement, and enjoying the extra treats I was handing out. We had quite a wait until the medal ceremony but we didn’t care — the prize was so worth the wait.
So day one was a wrap, and the following day was a rest day for me and Arran. We went to the venue and spent the day watching some incredible para athletes — so moving and inspiring — and to support the rest of the UK Team who were competing on that day. Team UK had some fantastic results, with many of our team mates putting in some incredible performances and adding to the medal collection. We couldn’t have been more proud to be part of it.
Day three was the agility round — a course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, a seesaw, an
A-frame, and a dog walk. As Arran and I made our way into the arena could we dare to dream that we would go clear again? But that’s exactly what we did over the next 38 seconds. I could hardly believe it!
As the class drew to an end, I knew we had done well but NOT that we had actually won yet another individual bronze medal. Unbelievable! I cried tears of absolute joy at the medal ceremony — what a dog!
Day four arrived — another jumping round. I thought the course was far trickier and with two medals in the bag, I decided to take it easier and just try for a clear round, and a clean sweep over the three classes. Arran ran a beautiful clear, just out of the top three in fourth place but I couldn’t have been happier. He had exceeded any expectations that I had and given his all.
And so the closing ceremony began. All the participating countries’ teams were introduced and came into the arena again for the final time; it was so moving.
There was a final presentation to the overall winners of all the groups who would be crowned as world champions. I remember thinking I had heard my name called out — no it couldn’t be.
Then suddenly my UK team mates parted and Arran and I were pushed through the crowds — we were individual reserve world champion.
Back onto the podium we went (reserve to another of my team mates). We were presented with an enormous trophy (actually bigger than Arran!) and stood so proudly while our national anthem was played. We had done it — hit the jackpot, and I cried like a baby, so proud of Arran.
Eight days earlier Arran and I had set off for the adventure of a lifetime — and he quite frankly smashed it! The championships were like nothing I had ever experienced — we LOVED every minute.
Who knows what the future will be; how do we top this? Possibly try again for the team in in Portugal 2024. THANK YOU to everyone who helped with sponsorship for us — without you, this incredible adventure would never have been possible.