Mirja Lapanja (Slovenia)
I was born in 1973 in Ljubljana, which is the capital of Slovenia and I still live there. I finshed Law University. Agility is my main hobby for the last 18 years. I have been competing in agility since 1994. I was running 5 Agility World Championships so far, with 3 different dogs. I run with Border Collies and I also breed them under prefix Shadow of Aire. I’m an Agility judge since 2000 and judging frequently since then all over Europe. For some years I was team leader's assistent and also a team leader of Slovenian Agility Team. For the last 15 years I am also an agility instructor at our Agility-Ilirija club and also its president.
Sandra Deidda (Italy)
I began Agility in 1997 with Blue Scott, my first Border Collie. Over the years other dogs entered my life after him: two female Border Collie, Sunny and Maui, and three little Shetland Sheepdogs. With my first Shetland, Happy, I joined the Agility Italian National Team twice and, after winning all the titles required to become Italian Champion in 2006, Happy won two times in a row the Italian Championship title for Medium class, in 2010 and 2011. The great passion I have for this sport made me choose to become an Official Judge in 2009, feeling that it would be an important step to achieve, as a fulfilment of my experience in this discipline. My philosophy as an Agility Judge aims mostly to construct fluid courses for the dog. A good performance must implied the idea of having fun, both for the handler and the dog, being always an interesting challenge and a chance for a constant technical growth. I am personally glad when a rhythmical performance emerges from one of my courses: it’s a pleasure watching an energetic run, with high peaks of techniques and optimal trajectories combined with speed. When I feel the sensation that a dog and a handler are in symbiosis, linked by an invisible thread, it’s truly spectacular, also for the audience, who become very keen on this sport. As a handler, I can say that there are some courses that make you feel a perfect connection with your dog, an harmony, a whole of energy and perfect communication that make you arrive at the finishing line in a real explosion of joy. Those are the courses that leave a sign in the heart of an agility handler and that contribute to grow our passion stronger and stronger day by day! It will be an honour for me to live the experience of the FCI European Open 2013 as Judge!
Jean Pierre Verbesselt (Belgium)
Hi, I live with my wife Caroline in Ogy, a small village on the Walloon / Flemish border. Being dog lovers, we have an extensive 'pack' with a lots of different breeds. With some of these dogs we practice agility. I was introduced to the sport at the beginning of 1990 through a friend and was immediately hooked. Being able to obtain a perfect connection between dog and owner through a 'game' seemed fantastic. So it was only normal that we were going to train a dog for this sport. And after the first dog there was a second ... third ... fourth ... after a while you just stop counting. After four years I took the next logical step, becoming an instructor taking on this new challenge was exciting. It gave me great satisfaction to help people find their way in agility and being able to see it happen was a great experience. Seeing a dog and his handler growing together as a team in agility is wonderful. Another eight years later I thought of becoming a judge interested to experience the 'game' from the 'other' side. To challenge the handlers with situations and enjoying the solutions they had to offer was and still is my biggest motivation. And to this day they can still amaze me with their capacity to solve agility 'problems'. The game is still the same and has stood the test of time really well only the speed with which it is executed is much faster now. I am glad I was there to see and experience this evolution. And I enjoy every round whether as a handler, a judge or spectator. At this EO I will certainly just do that . I hope we can all participate in making this EO a successful, joyful event, all in the spirit of sportsmanship. Good luck!
Jozef Van Eester (Belgium)
I started with agility in 1984 with my first dog G'Lady (German Pointer) In 1991 I attended the course Agility judging in England. Afterwards I successfully passed the exam of Agility
Judge. Since then I'm judging as a FCI judge in several European countries. I still enjoy judging very much. Every year the handlers and dogs are competing at a higher level, making the
competitions more intens, more exciting. I'm looking forward to see who will be the new European champions this time. I wish all the competitors the best of luck, may the best one win!
Michel Liekens (Belgium)
I was born in 1954. My first contact with agility was in 1990 at our club “De Aarschotse Hondenvrienden”.
I ran my first competition in 1991 with my female Tervuren, Oshin. Together we have had a lot of fun, running agility and we attained the 3rd level (highest level in Belgium).
The “agility bug” infected me so that I even gave up playing football (or maybe it was my age that had something to do with it).
I am still member of “De Aarschotse Hondenvrienden” and for several years now I organize our annual competition and an agility weekend every two years.
I became agility instructor.
Meanwhile Oshin grew older and in 1999 I decided to expand the family with another Tervuren, Yentl (male). I trained him and when he was at the age that he was allowed to participate to competitions he became my new “team mate”.
1999 was also the year I became agility judge. In 2000 I became FCI international judge. Since then I judge about sixty agility competitions a year, most of them in Belgium.
It has become clear to me that I’ve had to make a choice running agility or judging it. I have decided to give priority to judging.
Furthermore I am deputy secretary of the Belgian agility committee and I am also member of the committee that appoints the judges in Belgium.
I have judged in about 18 different countries, a lot of National Championships and also the FCI World Championships Agility 2007 in Norway.
To me agility has become a hobby that has taken a very big part of my life. I enjoy very much judging agility. I admire the dogs and their handlers who run beautiful rounds, with or without faults, sometimes it even gives me goose pimples.
Ronny Gilisen (Belgium)
My first encounter with the agility sport was in 1985 while competing in London’s horse show at Olympia. In between the several horse competitions there were agility competitions. John Gilbert was bragging about the speed of the dogs and this was enough to get one of the young Belgian riders (me) excited and I took up the challenge to prove him wrong. We (John en I) were able to persuade the BBC that controlled the complete event to spare us 30 minutes and we made a small knock-out course John with his border collie and myself riding my horse. John finally won with 0,04 of a second faster time then me. My love for agility was born. I had to stop my career in show jumping due to an injury, as I had a Belgian Shepard (Groenendael) so I went to a dog school nearby (Het Hasselts hondje) at my application I mentioned that I wanted to do Agility, the answer was that Agility was only in a trial period and that there was no agility at this school but that they intended to start with it. So I started in the obedience and quickly went to working trails with my Belgian Shepard. My second dog was an English Cocker Spaniel who introduced me to working trial. But I wanted to do agility so through my previous contacts with John Gilbert I was invited to a seminar given by Peter Lewis that later appeared to be an instructor’s course of some kind. When I returned I started as an instructor in Agility using the methods I learned in England. I started in the agility in September 1989 with a border collie of a friend of mine as my own dogs were not yet ready to compete in agility. After a couple of months I started with my own dogs a crazy Belgian Shepard and an even crazier English Cocker Spaniel. Then I bought my first border collie and since then this is my favored dog breed. My best results are a 3rd place at the Belgian championships for second degree and two 3rd places in the Belgian championships for the 3rd degree. This year I was proud to be part of the team that won the International Interclub “The Golden Spur Trophy”. In 2002 I was elected as secretary of the Section 4C Agility within the Belgian Kennel Club a function that I still actively maintain. In 2009 I succeeded in my exam for Judge in Agility and in 2010 I was granted the status of FCI International Judge in Agility. I still love this sport and enjoy judging and competing with my dogs.
Anja Diels (Belgium)
I was born in 1972 and live in Herentals together with my husband Mario Van Hove. We have two children; our six year old son Seppe and three year old daughter Gitte.
I started agility with my first dog, a Doberman, in 1992. That was a real challenge! After him I had my first Belgian Shepherd (Tervueren), Simthos Van 't Sparrebos, with which I had a great time and achieved quite a lot. I competed in the FCI world championships in Dortmund, Germany, in 1999. We also obtained IPO 3 and a few titles at breed shows: Belgian Champion, Luxemburg Champion and International Champion.
Once in a while we have fun by competing in Flyball and Obedience. After that I also had two other dogs out of Simthos. At the moment I am training a young Sheltie; a new challenge! All in all we now have three Belgian Shepherds, a Border Collie and a Sheltie.
I have been a national and international judge since 2002. I judged the World Championships for Belgian Shepherds in 2003 and 2011. Agility still fascinates me, as a judge as well as a competitor. I try to find a nice balance between judging and competing. To me, one completes the other.