Neale Emslie email@example.com
PORT Elizabeth pigeon racing ace Niel Chalmers’s status as one of the sport’s top competitors was confirmed at the weekend when he was named this year’s Port Elizabeth Racing Pigeon Federation champion.
About 220 pigeon fanciers compete in the sport in Eastern Province and the Port Elizabeth Racing Pigeon Federation is the strongest body in the EP Pigeon Union.
Chalmers, a member of the Metropolitan Racing Pigeon Club, excelled in the federation races this year, with the highlight being the pigeon he raced from Standerton a few weeks ago which arrived home at his pigeon loft in Walmer at 2.35am on Sunday after a journey of 19½ hours.
“That was a phenomenal race,” Niel’s father, Tom, said yesterday. “Pigeons don’t often fly at night but sometimes from Olifantskop Pass [the other side of Paterson] they can see Port Elizabeth’s lights and continue the journey.”
Tom was a pigeon fancier in his day but rates his 42-year-old son as much better than he ever was. “He just knows how to pair birds to breed winners,” Tom said.
“And last year he sold birds at a sale in Alberton to the tune of R810000. These ones he has now are the babies of those birds.”
Niel received his national colours at the age of 32 and is also a national pigeon show judge. He has 300 pigeons under his care at his loft in Walmer and races 30 at a time over two different routes, 15 on each route.
“Niel had one of his best years ever in 2002 when he won every race on offer in the Eastern Cape and was crowned club champion, the PE federation champion and the EPPU champion,” Tom said.
“He has a real passion for the sport.”