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Leny VAN DER LINDEN - Parike-Brakel (B) 1° National Youth champion KBDB 2007 + 2008

1° National Youth champion KBDB 2007 + 20082° National Champion KBDB ‘Small middle distance’ old 2008
12° National Champion KBDB ‘Small middle distance’ youngsters 2008
The youth has the future… so they say. In our ‘aging’ pigeon sport the ‘youthful fanciers’ are really in the minority.

A sad evolution that can’t be changed that quickly, we fear… that is why it is so important to nourish these young enthusiasts, to guide them, and to help them with word or deed when necessary. Luckily most of the provinces here respond to this via the ‘Youth clubs’, which partly supply coaching and can provide help… and in most cases there is also a separate championship in which these youthful fanciers up to the age of 25, who race independently (read: own loft and own pigeons), can compete with each other. This line was impregnated by the KBDB-agencies up to National level… in which there is a ‘National Youth Championship’ for the young fanciers aged between 12 and 25 years and is raced over 5 races (between the 1° weekend of May and the last weekend of August with a minimum of 100 participating pigeons and 10 different fanciers) with their first nominated pigeon with a total distance of a minimum of 500 Km (over the 5 races, 1 race per weekend). Both in 2007 and 2008 there was one and the same winner with the name Leny Van der Linden from Parike-Brakel. This region in the Flemish Ardennes is well known in the cycling world because of the ascent of the Parike mountain, which lies between ‘Tenbosse’ and the ‘Wall’ of Geraardsbergen, which the cyclists in the Tour of Flanders usually pass in the final (not in 2009 due to road works).
Leny Van der Linden now also puts this region on the map with his national titles, acquired via the magnificent performances of his pigeons, not only by the youth category… because at the end of 2008 Lenny stood on the ‘national podium’ in Oostende, between the ‘greatest’ from our country in the ‘small middle distance’, and this with both old and youngsters, so as you have read in the title of this article. Are we sitting here at the table with a new ‘national topper’ in the making? Who knows… and with the performances of the last 2 sport seasons it looks very likely! Leny climbed the national podium with the following results:
1° National Youth Champion 2008
10/5 Toury    590 p.    4
24/5 Orleans    252 p.    1
28/6 Toury    269 p.    1
02/8 Toury    316 p.    2
09/8 Toury    309 p.    2
2° National Champion KBDB ‘Small middle distance’ Old 2008
03/5 Toury    835 p.    32    7    (1° and 2° nominated)
10/5 Toury    590 p.    4    3
17/5 Toury    369 p.    3    16
21/6 Toury    328 p.    15    2
28/6 Toury    269 p.    1    3

How it all started
An old pigeon loft from Leny’s grandfather (on his mother’s side) stood in the family garden, in which only  stray pigeons were kept. In his free time Lenny honoured these pigeons with a visit, and was so slowly infected with the pigeon bug. One day his grandfather suggested getting rid of these ‘stray fellows’, and replacing them with pigeons of a ‘better class’. Grandfather Jozef (previously known in the area as the ‘wizard of Horebeke’ or ‘Master Van der Linden’… one the one side because he was a top champion, but also because he was a ‘master -inspector’ ) still had a good friendship or had maintained good relations with several toppers in the region of Oldnaarde-Ronse. Because of this Leny obtained pigeons in 2000 from the late Robert Willequet out Kluisbergen and the late Georges De Jaegher out Melden, from Roger Spitaels out Parike (or ‘Pijpe’ to his friends), Roger Baele out Zwalm, in addition to a few pigeons from Luc Van Coppenolle out Ouwegem (who is a colleague of father Wim at the school in Oldnaarde). Initially only the youngsters participated in the races, wherefrom those that had performed best at the end of the season were given a place in the ‘breeding loft’

In 2001 the crossing Willequet x Van Coppenolle immediately produced a few excellent youngsters (80% of het current loft population still comes out of these lines)… the train was on the right track. In 2003 the first start was made with a yearling’s loft, which directly formed the basis for the game with the old birds. In 2005 8 pigeons from Schoors-De Waele (via eggs) came to reinforce the breeding loft, while for the last two seasons pigeons from Joost De Smeyter-Restiaen left from Melden for Parike. Leny is also very grateful to these people for their help and the breeding material supplied… top quality it seems. So as you can see, there is a lot of ‘Long Distance blood’ incorporated in the stock building. With this in mind, Joost De Smeyter also tried to interest Leny in the ‘Long Distance game’… because of the enormous potential and possibilities available. At the moment the attention is focused on the Middle Distance races, and according to Leny it will remain so for a while yet… knowing that for the Long Distance game other things have to be taken into consideration. Long Distance usually means more pigeons, more time is needed, a different racing system etc… and he is not planning to build more lofts at the moment, even though he admits that they really enjoy watching the arrival of the pigeons from the Long Distance races. That’s why Leny wants to later take a chance in the Long Distance (in 2008 1/2 was achieved from St.Vincent Yearlings), for which he has 2 ideal mentors and teachers in the form of Joost De Smeyter and Luc Van Coppenolle.
He has a limited team of 22 widowers  + 6 late youngsters, wherefrom 8 widowers that will probably be destined for the Long Distance, while the remaining 14 will be kept for the Middle Distance… and the 18 breeding couples are responsible for the 60 youngsters that are ringed every year. Grandfather remains the ‘master inspector’, whereby all the youngsters are inspected almost every week… and receive a score between 1 and 5. The youngsters with a 3 or less are disposed of straight away… they like to see well-built pigeons, pear shaped with a strong parson’s nose, silky soft plumage and fiery eyes. According to grandfather, pigeons with defects never become real toppers, that’s why Leny disposes of them almost straight away, which means almost 30% of the youngsters. The rest have to prove themselves in the races, with the criterion… only prizes per 10. As youngsters they have to perform well and show what they are capable of... except for the late youngsters, which are only trained well with an eye to the future, and from which several became ‘toppers’ at a later age.

The approach
All the pigeons, breeders and racers, are coupled at the beginning of December… whereby the eggs are almost immediately placed under the racing pigeons. The breeders are then separated for a week, and then coupled again. By the compiling of the breeding couples they try to couple middle distance pigeons with each other and long distance pigeons with each other.  The widowers raise the youngsters and are then separated and move to the aviary for a few weeks… at the end of March they are coupled again, and leave for widowhood after a few day’s brooding.  At the start the widowers only train for an hour in the evening, but once the Middle Distance races are in sight they are also trained in the morning. Seeing that Parike is only 30 minutes away from the French border, Leny finds it inappropriate to enter his pigeons for Quivrain in the massive interprovincial liberation… the distance is just too short for such a mass liberation. That’s why he himself trains the old birds several times (5 or 6 times) with the ‘small basket’ up to 20 km, the youngsters on occasion 10 times. Then they are entered for Noyon, which the old birds race twice, the youngsters even 3 or 4 times… before the Middle Distance races arrive. Up until last season they flew weekly from Dourdan or Toury, starting this season it will only be Etampes due to the new KBDB standards, since the interprovincial agreement is that only Etampes will be retained as the place of liberation. The old birds generally fly 3 Etampes races consecutively, after which they are given a weeks rest, a question of recharging the batteries and not racing the pigeons to death. After 3 weeks the first selection of the Middle Distance pigeons occurs, whereby the ‘losers’ are removed from the loft…  because it is often these ‘lesser gods’ that disturb the training work of the other pigeons, so, according to Leny,  it is better to abolish these fellows without more ado… no mercy!
For the medical guidance of the racing team he puts his trust in the veterinary surgeon, who he telephones regularly, and when there is a ‘dip’ in the results… he honours with a visit. In normal circumstances there is a blind cure given every 3 weeks for 2 to 3 days for tricho, while something is given for 1 day each week for airway infections and the head. The pigeons are also given preventative drops for this before the basketting and when they return home. Natural products such as tea, apple vinegar, sedochol, and other things are used …and further some amino acids at the beginning of the week regularly,  and multivitamins over the food towards the day of basketting… and a very ‘light feed’, mainly depurative. Only on the penultimate day half sport mixture, and on the last day 100% racing mixture. Peanuts and nibbling seeds are added as supplements, and also garlic oil to make the pigeons ‘tame’. Leny prefers it if the pigeons eat up everything they are fed. Via this method of feeding he can easily keep his pigeons eating, something that is important for keeping the racing condition  on a high level for the entire sport season. The Long Distance pigeons will demand a somewhat different approach, and for this he is given advice from Joost De Smeyter and Luc Van Coppenolle. Leny considers himself fortunate in that he can surround himself or fall back on the right people for every branch of the pigeon sport if necessary. According to him, this forms the majority of the foundation for his current successes.
The game with the youngsters is not a goal in itself, even though it has Leny’s preference. Understandable, since up until a few years ago, during the school holidays in July and August he could fully concentrate on the ‘youngsters game’ . The youngsters are darkened from February until the beginning of June (from 6pm to 7.30am), although Leny prefers to call it ‘screening’, since, according to him, it is too bright in the lofts, as a result of which the moulting begins too early. This means that towards the end of the season he has to ‘compromise’ in order to find a few pigeons that are still ‘fully clothed’ and have a chance of success in classifying in the middle Distance races for youngsters. They  are raced with the sliding door.

Sportsman in heart and soul
Leny (23) works for the firm Crawford (placing of sectional gates in the region West-Flanders), and in his free time he is a fierce sportsman and animal lover. In the winter he is also an active footballer in the 3° Province. Father Wim and mother Sabine are also real animal lovers and are crazy about horses. When Leny chose pigeon sport they supported their son fully and stood by to help. Because Leny has to leave early for his job and is often only home at 5pm, a helping hand by the training or letting out of the (young) pigeons is more than welcome. All the ingredients were then present in order to be able to succeed in the pigeon sport… the successes were soon coming. As early as the 2° racing season titles were already achieved locally in the Middle Distance with the youngsters… a success story which year after year assumed ever greater proportions! In 2005 Leny achieved the 1° prize Provincial + 12° Nat. Vichy, in 2007 followed by the National title in the category Youth, something which he repeated in 2008, next to the other ‘National titles KBDB’ in the Small middle distance by both old and young pigeons… where Leny as a youthful fancier was allowed to stand on the podium in Oostende between the established fanciers at National level!
That’s why it is even more of a pity that this line couldn’t be continued at provincial level, by the Prov. championships KBDB East-Flanders. Whoever classifies by the champions of the East-Flemish youth category, are not allowed to classify themselves in the other provincial championships and vice versa! In the end it is the provincial committee which decides who classifies where, taking of course into account the most advantageous classification for the fancier in question… and Leny finds this discriminating. He makes the comparison with the ‘Tour de France’… there the best  youngsters ride round in the ‘white jersey’, but he is also included in the ‘general classification’, between all the participating cyclists. In the East-Flemish pigeon sport this is still not seemingly possible, despite the fact that Leny has suggested this to the provincial governing board 2 years in a row! What is not yet possible… can of course still happen, but it is anything but logical. Leny felt that this was wrong, had even to be reported… so that the provincial regulations could hopefully be modified!

Magnificent 2008
The 2008 sport season was then a direct hit at all levels, you can read the national title win in the heading of this article. We would still like to take a closer look at the results and highlights of the 2008 sport season

Old birds:
Toury        269 p. 1,3,34 (3)
        282 YL 1,3,86 (3)
Toury        328 p. 2,15,20,37 (4)
Orleans        252 p. 1,40 (3)
        427 YL.    6 (2)
Orleans        277 YL. 3,14 (3)
Toury        265 p. 1,69 (3/4)
Dourdan     819 p. 3,6,84,127 (5)
        663 YL.    25,63,71,93,122 (5)
Dourdan     322 p. 2,43 (3)
        524 YL.    22,31 (3)
29/6 Noyon    422 p. 1,6,7,15,16,18,20,25,39,49,50,56… (26/43)
06/7 Noyon    1043 p. 3,35,36,78,81,86,96,114,116… (17/27)
26/7 Ecouen    756 p. 2,5,16,26,31,44,46,56,65,68,69,70,77,93,99… (24/40)
02/8 Toury    316 p. 2,3,10,11,17,21,33,79,80 (9/14)
         Toury    775 p. 10,22,25,29,57,95… (16/21)
09/8 Toury    309 p. 2,8,9,10,11,14,17,18,25,26,27,59 (12/16)
         Orleans    816 p.  21,31,46,60,62,107… (12/14)
16/8 Toury    333 p.  6,7,19,21,35,37,38,43,44,70 (10/15)
23/8 Toury    212 p.  9,14,15,21,44,54… (9/14)
30/8 Toury    244 p.  7,49,63,71,81 (5/9)

Reaching the top in the national championships KBDB can only be achieved with ‘early prizes’ from your first nominated in the results, that is obvious. And early prizes or ‘head prizes’ can only be achieved by top racers or real crack pigeons in the lofts. Allow us to introduce you to 3 of these toppers who made everything beautiful in Parike, and were responsible for achieving prominent championship titles:
-The Blue B05-4038596 won:
Toury        265 p.    1
Orleans        252 p.    1
    Prov    1973 p.    27
Ecouen        633 p.    3
Toury        590 p.    3
Toury        212 p.    4
Toury        148 p.    8
Toury        290 p.    14
Toury        328 p.    15
Toury        835 p.    32

-The Blue B08-4109017 is a daughter of ‘Den 25’, and was virtually always the 1° nominated in the Middle Distance for youngsters in 2008, and had then a major share in the several ‘titles’ that were achieved, she won:
Noyon        422 p.    1
Ecouen        756 p.    2
Toury        316 p.    2
Toury        309 p.    2
Toury        333 p.     6
And further 8 prizes from 9 baskettings with Noyon 243 p. 27, Noyon 1.043 p. 78, Noyon 1.001 p. 140.

-The ‘Dikken’ B04-4037752 also raced a powerful honours list, including:
Ecouen        122 p.    1
Nanteuil    130 p.    1
Quivrain    137 p.    1
Ecouen        310 p.    2
Ecouen        240 p.    2
Ecouen          64 p.    2
Ecouen          79 p.    3
Toury        590 p.    4
Toury        835 p.    7
Quivrain    161 p.    11
Pont St.Max    307 p.    19
Noyon        533 p.    22
Pont St.Max    408 p.    24
Ecouen        633 p.    26
A real crack and one of the pillars in the loft of Leny Vanderlinden!

The future looks bright
Leny had the unmistakable advantage of having excellent pigeons from the start, which he obtained via the friends of grandfather Jozef in Parike. In addition he couldn’t only rely on the knowledge and experience of his grandfather, but also on the experienced clappers and pigeon friends so as Luc Van Coppenolle and Joost De Smeyter, who supported Leny with advice and help when necessary. A not to be scoffed at advantage for working on the road to the top of our national pigeon sport! Something that this Leny Vanderlinden managed wonderfully last season, and moreover opens great perspectives… this much is obvious. To be able to compete with the great tenors at National level in the Middle Distance is not for everybody, but testifies mastership, in addition to a loft of ‘class pigeons’. Ingredients that stand guarrantee for a great future in the pigeon sport, something which we warmly wish Leny… next to a fat ‘congratulations’ in achieving the ‘national title’ during the last seasons!