Shearing stars show how it's done

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Allan Oldfield in action.
Allan Oldfield in action.
World champion blade shearer Allan Oldfield battled the heat - and sheep with broken wool - in Le Dorat, France, to become the best in the world.

It was pretty tough, too, when he came home to Geraldine - everyone wanted to shake his hand and buy him a drink.

Mr Oldfield and team-mate Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, with whom he won the team title, were cheered as they strode on to Geraldine's Village Green on Sunday.

Mr Oldfield won the individual and team world blade shearing titles.

Waiting in Geraldine were six sheep, an expectant crowd, and proud mum Jo Dolan on the microphone.

Also in the crowd were Allan's grandfathers, Pat Dolan of Temuka and former South Canterbury identity Harry Oldfield, who now lives in Taupo.

Mr Oldfield, taught to shear by his father Phil, won the individual and team world blade shearing championships in France in July.

Fairlie ace Tony Dobbs.
Fairlie ace Tony Dobbs.
He took a title that has been held by South African shearers since 1992.

Both shearers spoke briefly before getting on to a mobile shearing platform and doing what the crowd had come to see - experts cutting the fleece off sheep.

Mr Oldfield was first, working quietly in the October sun.

He said the Kiwi shearers in France soon learned the going was going to be tough as the Texel ewes had just lambed, meaning the wool would be "broken'', or had a break in growth.

"There were 53 blade shearers in the all-nations and after the heats it was down to 12 for the semi finals.

"Luckily I made it through in fifth position but unfortunately Tony and my father (Phil) missed the cut at 13th and 17th respectively. I realised I had some serious work ahead of me to get around these sheep.''

Mr Oldfield said he wasn't completely happy with the way he shore in the first round of the final - but it was enough to put him on top of the leader board.

He had four sheep in the semis - and it gave him a chance to test his speed.

Allan Oldfield and grandfathers pat Dolan, left, and Harry Oldfield.
Allan Oldfield and grandfathers pat Dolan, left, and Harry Oldfield.
He qualified second behind a South African shearer.

Heat and nervousness meant he did not get a lot of sleep before the Sunday finals.

In the individual final shearers had three Texel ewes and three Suffolk lambs to shear.

"I chose to shear the worst of my Texels first and didn't do the best job on her but as I got into my second sheep, which was better, I got into a rhythm and started to build my pace.

"I was pushing so hard that I could feel my focus felt like a physical tension, like it was a muscle pushing me forward.

"I had my father in my pen cheering me on, which really helped as I got to the half way point.

"By the time I finished my third sheep I had nearly half a sheep lead over the field. I could occasionally hear the commentators mention when shearers went for their next sheep and I knew after my fifth sheep I had a full sheep lead on the field and was able to relax and shear my last sheep really cleanly.

"As I hit the time button I had a massive surge of adrenaline as I realised what had just happened.''

He said it was great to look up to see his father in the pen.

Mr Oldfield said he was given a gift from French President Emmanuel Macron "which was a huge surprise''.

"I think my father was more delighted than anyone, which I think is fair as he has spent years coaching me.''

He will defend his title in Scotland in 2022.

As Mr Dobbs shore, the crowd cheered, and Mr Oldfield, world champion, gave a commentary, saying Mr Dobbs was a master shearer. Mr Oldfield had been shearing in the Falklands before heading back to Geraldine.

 

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