SOME of the West Country’s more unusual sporting champions have been crowned in the past week.
It was fourth time lucky for Matt Norman at the 40th anniversary Dartmoor Folk Festival, held at South Zeal near Okehampton.
Folk music, song and dance enthusiast Matt, from Bristol, was declared the adult Dartmoor Step Dance competition champion for 2017 after a hotly-fought competition.
Matt, formerly from South Zeal and Exeter, had previously won the title in 2008, 2011 and 2015 and now equals competitor Lisa Sture, from North Devon, who holds the record for having previously won the title on four occasions.
Matt danced in front of a record crowd on the wagon in the final at the festival.
The Dartmoor Step Dance sees dancers step on a 15-inch square board showing the different steps to try and out-step the previous dancer, until a final champion is decided upon.
Alice Knight, 14, from Farnborough, Hampshire, was the junior winner of the title. Edward Selwood, 11, of South Zeal, was
the Dartmoor Broom Dance Champion. Dartmoor Broom dancing involves dancing with a broom, or rather over a broom, and is for primary school-aged children.
Using just a few more legs, an England team won the Nations Cup for small dogs at the Kennel Club International Agility Festival last weekend.
The ‘England 1’ team consisted of Bernadette Bay and her nine year-old Shetland sheepdog, Zaz, from West Sussex; Bonny Quick and her four year-old Jack Russell terrier/border collie cross, Shelley from Wellington in Somerset; and Louise Eden and her Shetland sheepdog, Fuze, from St Peter, Jersey. The Kennel Club International Agility Festival attracted thousands of competitors from throughout the UK and across the world.
Bonny said: ‘Competing with Shelley is an absolute blast for me. She absolutely adores zooming around the course, and win or lose we have the best fun together.
‘I feel very lucky to be able to compete with her. Our team was very strong and it was great to be able to step onto the start line alongside my two talented team-mates.’
Fourteen-year-old Sara Bacon, from Clevedon, won the International Young Handler of the Year competition with her border collie, Dream.
Sara won the competition for 12- to 17- year olds.
Guided by Sara, Dream jumped and weaved her way around the course in the best time. Sara also came third in the same competition with her other border collie, Tor.
This wasn’t Sara and Tor’s only success, as the pair qualified for the prestigious Kennel Club Olympia Agility Stakes in the Novice finals which will take place in Lon- don this December.
Sara said: ‘It was fantastic to get into the final with two dogs against so many incredible dogs and handlers. Running in the main ring with all the spectators and livestream was amazing, but to Dream it was just another agility course as she loves agility. Winning is the icing on the cake.”
Sara’s older sister Claire has also qualified for Olympia with her border collie, Jay, so the Bacon family will be heading to London together to watch the girls compete.