Crufts competitors take on Olympic TV presenter in hurdles race


Dogs from this year’s Crufts took on Olympic TV presenter Sonali Shah in a hurdling race at Lee Valley Athletics Centre on Thursday.


By Charlie Talbot-Smith, Sportsbeat

On a trip to the Lee Valley Athletics Centre you would expect to bump into the likes of Olympic athletic hopefuls Christian Malcolm or Marlon Devonish fine-tuning their sprint preparations for London 2012.

But on Thursday, to coincide with the launch of this year’s Crufts, a couple of Border Collies set out to prove that it’s not just humans with Olympic talents.

Maizie and Mitzi, who will be among 21,500 healthy, happy dogs at this year’s Crufts as part of the Flyball competition, took on Olympic TV presenter Sonali Shah in a hurdling race.

Shah, who will be co-presenting More 4’s coverage of next week’s event with Clare Balding, dusted off her running spikes but struggled to keep up with her canine competition and admitted afterwards that her hurdling days were long behind her.

“I have been practicing my hurdling skills but my technique is very much in quotation marks because I haven’t done this in quite a few years,” she said.

“At school I was pretty good but unfortunately I’m still the same height as I was aged 13 and these hurdles seem a bit too big.

“I embarrassed myself sufficiently and made the dogs look better than they already were.

“But to be at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre promoting the start of Crufts 2012 which kicks off next week is pretty great.

“In an Olympic year for London it seemed like a good idea to have me and the dogs competing in something athletics based.

“It’s nice to have the tie in with the games but sadly the standard of my hurdling won’t compare to what we will be seeing this summer.”

Crufts 2012 will take place at the NEC Arena in Birmingham starting on Thursday March 8 and in addition to Flyball there will also be a first-ever demonstration from the East Anglian Staffordshire Bull Terrier Agility Team.

And Shah admitted that she was already counting down the days until the event kicks off.

“I have never been to Crufts before so I will be discovering the event along with the people at home,” she added.

“I’ve always been interested to see what it’s like for four days in the NEC having watched it on television and I’m sure it’s going to be pretty special this year.”


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