Shearing’s a sport . . .

February 24, 2015

One of the country’s greatest sportsmen, David Fagan,  has never been recognised in the Halberg awards and Jamie Mackay is launching a crusade to change that:

. . . At the time of writing the five times world champion had won a staggering 634 open-class shearing finals, not to mention the odd junior, intermediate and senior title he picked up along the way as he honed his craft.  

By the time you read this that tally could well be 635 since he was a hot favourite to win the Southern Shears in Gore. With no Rowland Smith and John Kirkpatrick to contend with this season he’s looming large to win his 17th Golden Shears title at Masterton and do likewise for the 17th time in his swansong at the NZ Shearing Championships at Te Kuiti.

If Fagan is successful at either of the aforementioned events then surely he qualifies to be recognised in the 2015 Halberg Awards. 

What more does the man have to do? . .

Fagan did win the Southern Shears in Gore at the weekend.

He also won the speed shearing competition at the inaugural Hilux Rural Games in Queenstown at Waitangi Weekend.

Even if he doesn’t win anything else this year, surely his skill, athleticism, his 635 open-class titles, including five world championships and his 16 Golden Shears titles should qualify him for an award.

He’s not just a champion, he’s a good sport and he’s willing to share his skills. He was working in sheds around Southland before the Southern Shears, teaching up and coming shearers.

Sport is defined as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

That should cover shearing.

Anyone who doubts it, should read Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera. It has the most exciting sporting commentary I’ve ever read and the event was a shearing competition.

That shearing is also an occupation should be irrelevant – lots of other sports people are also paid to do what they do.

Shearing is a sport.

Fagan is one of New Zealand’s greatest sportsmen and he should be eligible for recognition at the Halberg Awards.

If the rules don’t allow his inclusion in existing categories then a special category that acknowledges his achievement should be made.


Shearing for Olympics?

January 19, 2012

If sport is defined as an athletic  activity requiring skill or physical prowess  and often of a competitive nature there is no doubt shearing fits.

The most memorable sporting commentary I’ve ever encountered in fiction was Witi Ihimaera’s account of a shearing competition in Bulibahsa and this report on this record -breaking attempt shows it also has spectator appeal:

A world shearing record which stood for 16 years was broken in front of a frenzied crowd of more than 150 packed into a King Country woolshed today.

Stecey Te Huia, of Te Kuiti, and Sam Welch, of Waikaretu, shore a combined tally of 1341 ewes in nine hours to beat by six the previous record of 1335 set by Southlanders Darin Forde and Wayne Ingram in 1996.

If it’s sport, then why not an Olympic one? 

Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers said recordholders could strip more than 700 sheep in eight hours and likened the feat to running back-to-back marathons.

“Our World Championship teams are athletes who take it to another level. Surely, time has come to elevate shearing’s sporting status to the ultimate world stage.

“One way would be to make shearing a demonstration sport at a Commonwealth Games, if not the Olympics itself.”

A spokesman said the New Zealand Olympic Committee took the suggestion seriously and would be behind any attempt to include shearing.

I can see some obstacles, not least of which would be sourcing enough sheep in some of the   host countries and animal welfare issues.

But I disagree with Otago University sports marketing senior lecturer John Guthrie who said it could play up to stereotypes about New Zealand, whose sheep flock is about 10 times the human population.

The best way to counter stereotypes is with education and showcasing shearing at the Olympics would be a very good way to educate people about the skill and athleticism required to do it.

It could also help people trying to market wool to counter the misconception held by too many people that sheep have to be killed before the fibre is harvested.


Bulibasha

October 8, 2009

Bulibahsa  by Witi Ihimaera is the story of a family feud.

One of the most memorable passages is a description of a shearing competition which is the most exciting sports commentary I’ve ever read.

  

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 Day 8 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

book month logo green

Deborah at In A Strange Land is reading My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes by Eve Sutton, ilustrated by Lynley Dodd.


Fagan wins 16th Golden Shears title

March 8, 2009

Winning a national sporting title is a great accomplishment.

Doing it for the 16th time and at the age of 47 as David Fagan has done with the Golden Shears is a stunning tribute to fitness, skill, dedication and determination.

I hope the people who select finalists for the Halberg Awards  take note.

And if you don’t think shearing is sport, read Witi Ihimaera’s  Bulibasha. I’ve never been gripped by any other sporting commentary as I was by the one in that book.


Shear Blacks win 4 world titles

October 9, 2008

New Zealand’s premier shearing team, the Shear Blacks, has returned from the World Championships in Norway with four of a possible six titles.

41-year-old Paul Avery has spent 20 years shearing competitively. He last qualified for the world champs in 1998, but that year shearing legend David Fagan won.

With the help of an AMP scholarship, Mr Avery spent a month in Norway getting to know the local sheep.

“There lamb is like half as big again, like 50 to 60 kilos,” he says. “And they are crazy to shear they are kicking all the time. Even when you are sitting down at the end of a day shearing, sitting on the couch watching TV, you find your muscles are all tense and you’ve got to try and make yourself relax.”

Mr Avery was part of a team which won four out of a possible six titles. The team’s organiser says the results prove shearing is now a New Zealand sport in its own right.

“We have been funded by SPARC,” John Fagan from Shearing Sports NZ says. “Being an Olympic year this year, they didn’t fund us. But we are recognised as a sport.”

WHile I’d admired the skill and fitness of shearers I’d never really appreciated shearing as a sport until I read the account of a Golden Sheras final in Witi Ihimaera’s novel Bulibasha.


NZ 3 – Wales 0

July 28, 2008

Ah well, we didn’t win the rugby in Sydney, but our shearers had a 3-0 whitewash in a test series in Wales.

The team, comprising Golden Shears and New Zealand championships winner and runner-up John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, and Paul Avery, of Toko, near Stratford, won the final test by just a point in a close and exciting 20-sheep duel at the Corwen Shears, in north Wales at the weekend.

They had scored a 10-point win the opening test at Lampeter the previous weekend, and a one-point win in the second test at the Royal Welsh Show on Thursday.

Avery, who won both the Golden Shears and New Zealand titles in 2007 before bowing to Kirkpatrick in this year’s event, completed a remarkable series of individual wins on tour by claiming the Corwen Shears open title, with Kirkpatrick second and King Country icon David Fagan third.

Shearing is often overlooked as a sport, but there is no doubting the fitness and skill of the competitors nor the excitement of a close match. Although I didn’t really appreciate this until I read the commentary of a Golden Shears final in Witi Ihimaera’s novel, Bulibasha.


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