André and Katrien Meert from Zellik
It wasn’t the first time for André Meert to celebrate a national victory. He already achieved one in 1982, in the race of La Soutteraine for youngsters. Although this happened already 24 years ago, Zellik still thinks back in admiration about this national victory. In those days, his wife Katrien was taking care of the pigeons. André barely had time for his pigeons because of the busy activities in his company (roofing). These last 3 years, André has considerably more spare time and the result is this magnificent victory.
André started keeping pigeons at the end of the sixties. He got his first pigeons from Charles Goossens (Goossens-Van de Weyer), who mostly had birds from Hofkens and Verstraete in his possession. André immediately achieved excellent results with these pigeons and he regularly returned to the same address to get some reinforcement. In the early years, he particularly focussed on speed races but gradually, he started racing greater distances because he was excluded from pretty much every club. In the early eighties, André contacted Roger Vereecke from whom he obtained some pigeons which he crossbred with the strain he himself had created in the meantime. This crossbreeding resulted in the 1st Nat. La Souterraine 1982 youngsters. A couple of years later, in 1985 to be more precise, he got in touch with Gerard & Michel Vanhee and purchased some pigeons. André regularly went back to Wervik to acquire some more birds, the last time he went there was in 1995. In 1995 he also acquired some late youngsters from his friend Germain Imbrecht. André already knew Germain for ages but had never obtained pigeons from him before. He regularly reinforces his colony with pigeons from the Imbrecht loft since 1995, and he did so as well in 2000 and 2001 …
The parents of the Narbonne winner are both direct Imbrecht pigeons. André got the father in 2000 and the mother in 2001. He got several pigeons at Imbrecht’s in those years but he had a particular good feeling about these two. So he coupled them and they have never been coupled with other pigeons since then. André isn’t planning to change anything about that any time soon because the 2410348-00 X 1505286/01, the parents of the Narbonne winner, are well on their way to become the main couple at the Meert’s. The father of the Narbonne winner is a son of the 051/98, which won a.o. the 2nd Nat. Pau and 29th Nat. Marseille. The mother of the winner is a daughter of the 094/97 which won a.o. 45th Nat. Dax and the 154th Nat. Perpignan.
International winner Narbonne "Kleine Niko"
On the night the pigeons had to come in, André and Katrien weren’t sitting in their usual spot right in the sun but they had moved to the cool shade of the trees. That’s why they had a less good view of the trapdoor. It was around 7:30 PM when Katrien went inside for a while and when she returned, the pigeon was already in. She had mixed feelings about that later-on because she would have preferred to see the pigeon arrive but the international victory makes up for that of course. They received confirmation of their provincial victory around 8:45 PM, approximately one hour after ‘Kleine Niko’ had arrived. They weren’t sure of their international victory until 11:00 PM. ‘That’s a whole lot of difference compared to my national victory of 24 years ago’, says André, ‘back then, it took 3 weeks before I was sure about my national victory’.
André has had a magnificent season up until now. He already won first prizes in Limoges, Carhors and now there’s Narbonne. A nasty aftertaste tough is the fact that so many pigeons didn’t return. For example: he started with a loft of 12 widowers of which barely 2 are left and he also had a loft of 8 of which now only 4 remain.
André’s pigeons don’t just win long distance races but have also achieved some prizes in speed and middle distance racing. The pigeon that won Narbonne this weekend had only raced Arlon, Noyon, Vierzon and La Souterraine. After this last race, ‘Kleine Niko’ was kept home for 4 weeks which resulted in a national victory.