A COMPETITION to award the first pigeon home from the 2012 Olympics with a gold medal has taken the first tentative steps towards take-off – with Whitby Town Council planning to meet a pigeon fanciers’ club this evening.
Coun Dennis Collins will meet members of Whitby Premier Invitation Club to discuss the possibility of organising a race exclusively for Whitby birds, with medals for the top three finishers, just like the real Olympic games.
The council’s finance committee recently met to discuss the proposal, first proposed by local man Pete Budd, and committee member Coun Mike Murphy said: “We thought it was quite a super idea, in keeping with what a lot of people wanted to do for the Olympics.
“However it was not appropriate for the committee to spend taxpayers’ money until there was a plan put together.”
In addition to the cost of the medals, the council would have to consider the cost and logistics of arranging a race specifically for Whitby birds.
David Higgins, north east regional secretary for the Royal Pigeon Racing
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Association, said: “It would be do-able, pigeons do race from the south coast back to Whitby.
“Obviously it would depend on people in the local area wanting to be involved.
“Most of the races take place on Saturdays and they would have a pre-arranged race it could possibly be tied into.
“The association looked in the early stages at the possibility of having a race back from the opening ceremony, but it’s held in the evening so we dropped the idea, but the principle of having a race back from the Olympics is a good one, providing it’s done in daylight hours.”
Terry Lane, chairman of Whitby Premier Invitation Club is less optimistic that the race could be a success.
“It could be a long process.
“It’s not a good idea unless someone is going to the Olympics with a Transit van which could stick all the baskets inside.
“It would cost ever so much money because there’s that much to each pigeon race.
“It would have to be incorporated into their race programme, because if you start trying to do a race on your own it’s costly.
“The only thing you could do is you would have to pick a race somewhere near and just the Whitby birds could be racing for this medal.”
A spokesperson for jewellers C.W. Sellors said that until a genuine enquiry was made with the finished plan they would be unable to provide a quote for the potential cost of a set of medals.
Coun Murphy added: “There is a lot of planning to do before we can commit to any funding for a gold, silver and bronze medal.
“But even the gold medals at the Olympics aren’t made of real gold.”
In 1900 pigeon racing was an unofficial sport at the Olympic Games in Paris.
At the same event over 300 pigeons were killed at the official Live Pigeon Shooting event, the only event in Olympic history where live animals were intentionally killed.
The birds were released in front of a participant and the winner was the competitor who shot down the most birds from the sky.