Race favourite Jelle Jellema (Nijverdal, NL) lives up to the expectations with a national victory in Barcelona (update video)

A proud Jelle Jellema showing his Silke, 1st national Barcelona 2020
In the wake of his 2014 national victory with Kleine Jade, Jelle Jellema now claims his second national win in the 2020 classic from Barcelona with Silke.

Barcelona 2020

Highly demanding, Silke and Jelle Jellema. Those are the key words for the 2020 edition of Barcelona. At national level, a total of 4477 pigeons were released on Sunday 26th of July for the Catalan classic to fight for victory, while the international race had 14,500 pigeons at the start line. We could feel the tention rise, and we can imagine many fanciers having had a restless night after the race took off on Friday 08:50. With the high temperatures that weekend, especially in France, many were expecting a very difficult race. The first pigeon arrived home on Saturday in the early morning, in the German town of Rastatt. It was a pigeon of Karscu Alin, and it had covered 1005km with a velocity of 1104 m/min, before it arrived home at 07:10 am. And then began a nerve-wrecking waiting game. Eventually, the first pigeon was clock at 2:09 in the afternoon in the Belgian town of Marbais, closely followed by a pigeon that would eventually claim victory in Belgium for Luc Odeurs (Ordingen, BE) with a velocity of 1104 m/min. 
In The Netherlands, fanciers had to wait even longer. The first pigeon arrived home at 3:21 pm for B. Jansen & Co in Bavel, Brabant, after covering 1179km (841 m/min). And then we had to wait for the rest of the field. It was Jelle Jellema, who was considered the race favourite by many, who clocked a pigeon at 5:08pm in Nijverdal. This pigeon had covered 1293km and had reached the highest velocity of 857 m/min, thus claiming a 1st National and 2nd International Barcelona 2020.


NL15-1320979 Silke, 1st national/2nd international Barcelona 2020

Silke 1st national Barcelona 2020

The victory in the 2020 classic goes to NL15-1320979 Silke. This is a crowning achievement after a fantastic long distance racing career. She was basketed with a youngster of nine days old, and that motivated her to keep going when others decided to take a break. You can tell from her palmares that this pigeon is very well suited for the more demanding races. Let's take a closer look:

  • 2016        3rd national Narbonne   5042 p.
  • 2016    631st national  Bordeaux   4679 p. (yearlings)
  • 2017    157th national  Marseille   2528 p.
  • 2018    137th national  Perpignan  3778 p.
  • 2018    157th national  Barcelona  3912 p.
  • 2019    190th national  Barcelona  4129 p.
  • 2019    196th national  Perpignan  4283 p.
  • 2020       1st  national  Barcelona   4477 p.

If Kleine Jade, his international winner from 2014, and Silke had a common denominator, it would be NL98-1364798 Zwart Goud. To begin with, Kleine Jade is a granddaughter of Zwart Goud. And the dam of Silke, Klein Kweekstertje, is a granddaughter of Zwart Goud. The sire of Silke is NL12-1108430 MG430, where the letters MG stand for Miss Gijsje. MG430 is in fact a son of NL08-2075874 Olympic Miss Gijsje, a 1st Olympiad pigeon Cat. E 2013 in Nitra, Slovakia for Arjan Beens. Right until his escape in 2018, MG430 had been one of Jelle Jellema's very best breeders. He is also the sire of a 10th National Barcelona 2016. The dam of Silke is NL07-1187339 Klein Kweekstertje, a very gifted breeding hen in Nijverdal, having already bred a 3rd International Barcelona in 2013.

What a day

After the early arrival in Germany, the fancier from Nijverdal could st art to do the math. He constantly had to readjust his expectations. It would prove a long day, especially for his family-in-law, which Jelle had invited for this special day. But it was worth the wait, as Silke suddenly appeared above the pigeon lofts a few minutes past five. And while many fanciers saw their pigeons arrive home at a rather slow pace, Jelle had clocked an additional six pigeons by the end of the day, in Silke's slipstream. As a result, they all finished in the national top 40. Interestingly enough, two of them are grandchildren of Silke (24th and 39th national). And the first pigeon in the province of Limburg, a pigeon of Herman Hendrix (Broekhuizenvorst, NL) happens to be a grandchild of Silke as well! Here are Jelle's arrivals on Saturday:

  • 17:08h   1st national NL15-1320979 Silke (MG430 x Klein Kweekstertje)
  • 18:53h   7th national NL17-1732286 New Rena (Jort x Rena 8th national Barcelona 2018)
  • 20:15h 18th national NL16-1163544 (Zoon Orion x daughter Jackpot Jan Morsink, Marle)
  • 20:44h 24th national NL17-1732264 (Zoon Silke x dochter 095)
  • 21:15h 33rd national NL17-1732376 (Zoon Julia x daughter Romee)
  • 21:23h 38th national NL17-1149475 (Joe Frasier Kramer F.S. x daughter Zwart Goud)
  • 21:25h 40th national NL17-1732313 (Son Silke x daughter 095)

The pedigrees of these prize winners are included below;

Jelle Jellema's pigeon lofts

And a lot more pigeons started to come home in quick succession on Sunday Morning: eight more pigeons arrived home between 06:46 and 09:33 am (ranging from a 116th to a 310th national). This adds to a total of 15 prizes with 34 basketed pigeons. And that number had increased to 24 by Monday evening.


Jelle too had found it more difficult to get his pigeons in peak form for Barcelona compared to previous years. There was first of all the uncertainty as to whether the Barcelona classic would actually take place or not, due to corona. The pigeons were darkened this year, and the pigeons were brooding eggs before Barcelona, for the second time this year. Silke was basketed with a youngster of nine days old.
In the lead-up to the race, the pigeons had plenty to eat. Jelle would top up their feeding trays up to four times a day, so that the pigeons could build up their energy reserves. Jelle would go around his loft pretty much every hour of the day, because he was afraid that some of his pigeons would start a fight, and that could have an impact on his team for Barcelona. The racing birds did another training flight the week before the day of basketing. When handing over his pigeons to the national basking club in Borne, where they were basketed by the recently founded Borne Barcelona Club, the pigeon felt really good. They had the right amount of muscle tension, and the fancier had plenty of confidence in his team.

Closing words

Jelle Jellema and Barcelona, it has always been a strong combination. For many years, Jelle has been selecting his best birds based on this very race. Only the strongest birds were kept on board, and this approach now pays off. Or as Jelle would put it: you cannot make a difference in Barcelona with nutrition alone. Genetics play a much bigger role, and that is where selection comes in play. Jelle has done it again: he was able to take the Barcelona classic in his own hands. Many congratulations.

Taking a look inside the lofts of the winner in Barcelona 2020

Click here for the video about his national victory