Because winning two international races against several thousands of pigeons in just three weeks is only granted to a few celebrities. The 28 year-old Mark van den Berg from IJsselmuiden achieved just this. To be thorough: it began four weeks ago with a 3rd and 5th NPO Périgueux against 6.666 pigeons. A week later ‘Zara’ ensured flowers in the Van den Berg household from National, Northern Union and International Montauban. And two weeks later it’s bingo once again. It is now the turn of the NL 07-1240161, named ‘Sanne’, a beautiful hen named after Mark and Erna van den Berg’s young daughter, who took the whole pigeon loving Holland by surprise. ‘Sanne’ really surprised everybody with her sensational National, International and Northern Union victory in the Queen’s race Bergerac, against resp. 13.218 and more than 17.000 pigeons. And this from a distance of 946 kilometres, one of the furthest distances sector 3. A day after his much talked about victory , we speak to the young Mark van den Berg, who still thinks back to that memorable early morning of the 26th of July with wonder and amazement.
This is how it went that night and early morning...
‘My pigeons really have been in super form for a few week. They train formidably. If I take down the flag, they still fly spontaneously for an hour. Leave briefly and then fly widely spread high above the pigeon loft. Sometimes they tumble like youngsters. I had, of course, faith in my 18 basketted pigeons for Bergerac. That evening I went to bed at nine o’clock. I got up again at a quarter past twelve. I opened the traps and turned on the outside light. I then lied down on the couch in front of the rear window. I had the feeling that the pigeons would be early in our region. Every so often I went to take a look and checked the internet. At half past two my father joined me, but went home again because there had been no pigeons reported in the Netherlands. At 05h00, just as it was getting light, I checked again. Once again, nothing to see and no reports on the internet. I went back to lie down on the couch again. At five past five I saw a pigeon out of the corner of my eye, sitting on the roof corner of my neighbours house. I dashed outside and whistled gently and shook my tin to attract the pigeon. She reacted immediately, came down and walked over the antennae. It turned out to be the NL 07-1240161, a hen that had been basketted as 9th nominated. Time of clocking 05h08.45. My heart leaped into my mouth. Because at that moment I knew I had a very early pigeon, seeing that I race one of the furthest distances in the sector. Only Genemuiden could beat me. When Arjan Beens heard that Mark had a pigeon his first reaction was: ‘Super. There is nothing yet here in Genemuiden. You’ve done it again pal’. Driekus van den Essenburg from the provincial governing board then soon carried out the controls and the national and later also the international victory was officially a fact. This time we had basketted the pigeons by the NIC ‘De Postduif’ in Kampen. We had a very enjoyable time there because they hung out the flag that evening. After Montauban it was already a very successful season. I didn’t even dare dream about this victory from Bergerac’, says a proud Mark, you can hear the emotion in his voice when he talks about this wonderful moment.
‘‘Sanne’ a new ‘Golden nugget’
‘Sanne’ is a beautiful chequered hen. Beautifully built with a thick silky smooth plumage. She is also a sensible hen, that reacts directly to the sound of Mark’s voice and coo’s and runs around in her box. She was raced whilst brooding for ten days. Her father is the NL 03-2326353 ‘Brive 1’. This is a son of the phenomenal super breeder ‘De Brive’ from Raymond Moleveld, now owned by First Prize Pigeons. Mark has six children from this stunner, who play an important role in his colony. The mother of ‘Brive 2’ is a granddaughter of the ‘Sterke Barcelona’ from Anton and Lucy van de Wegen. The mother of ‘Sanne’ is the NL 05-2033695 ‘Inteelt Klamper’ via Jan Duijn, Enschede. This hen is inbred to the famous ‘Klamper’ from Cor de Heijde, Made. Striking that a pigeon with 75% ‘extreme long distance blood’ in her veins, knows how to achieve this high-performance masterpiece. Up until Bergerac , this ‘Sanne’ hadn’t really done anything. One prize 1:10 from Périgueux was the only thing on the honours list. That all changed on Sunday morning the 26th of July . Within three weeks she gave Mark van den Berg unforgettable fame for the second time.
Further there was a very good result put down from Bergerac. With 18 pigeons entered, 12 prizes were achieved nationally with the following series: 05.08 – 07.57 ( ‘Anna’, this year also the 3rd NPO Périgueux Province 8. She is a sister of the 1st National Montauban) – 08.35 – 10.04 – 10.13 – 10.26 – 10.40 – 10.56 – 11.44 – 11.56 and 12h02.
‘National Bergerac this year was certainly not an easy race. My second and third pigeon had had a tough time, I could see that. My first pigeon looked fresh, but that is always the case with a very early pigeon. She must have flown all night. Only pigeons with an extra quality and super condition can do this. It’s great that I can experience something like this again’. In previous years a famous pigeon sport journalist wrote ‘a good one is a dream’. In IJsselmuiden the dreams are beginning to string themselves together. And they come true! On Monday morning Mark and Erna van den Berg were pleasantly surprised by an unexpected visit from Koop and Gerda Kiekebelt. They have given Mark good pigeons and a lot of valuable advice. Like real sport people, Koop and Gerda are exceptionally proud of their ‘pupil’ Mark. They proudly admire the two national winners. For the last time in IJsselmuiden, because they are now no longer present at this location. The season has almost ended for Mark. National Bordeaux next weekend is the last race. Perhaps a new dream that will come true? One thing is certain. As far as I know, nobody has made the leap from super talent to super celebrity so quickly. Mark van den Berg did it in just three weeks! Well done!!