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Fagan Still One To Beat

Fagan Still One To Beat

Less than a month out to the 20th New Zealand Shearing Championships, legendary shearer David Fagan is finding winning form – and some stiff competition.

Fagan, of Te Kuiti, is New Zealand’s greatest ever shearer having won an unprecedented 13 New Zealand Shearing Championships Open Titles and 14 Golden Shears Open Titles.

He has about 545 national and international titles to his name and is the current World Champion – a title Fagan has won five times. He is also the current world record holder of the speed shear title with a time of 17.94 seconds, set near Raglan in January 2004.

All going to plan, he will defend his title to collect a record 14th title at the New Zealand Shearing Championships being held in Te Kuiti from April 1-3.

Aged 42 and after more than 20 years competing at the highest level, Fagan admits his age is starting to hinder his performance.

“Competing is obviously a bit harder now than it used to be and I am probably a couple of years passed my best,” he says.

“But I am still competitive and I love competing. It’s great to be able to match it with all the guys that are there at the moment, although I am not as dominant as I was two or three years ago.”

To win the Championships, he will need beat about 90 other shearers to qualify for the final and then shear 20 sheep faster and cleaner than the five other finalists.

Last weekend , Fagan won both the Taumarunui and Pahiatua Shears Open Titles – beating closest rival John Kirkpatrick of Napier by just 0.055 points at Pahiatua. Kirkpatrick had beaten Fagan a week earlier at the Southern Shears in Gore.

This weekend <> he competes in the Golden Shears at Masterton, where he says making the final will be the toughest challenge.

“The important thing to do is qualify.”

Fagan says he will be concentrating on his own performance, rather than his competition. “At this level, there’s no substitute for experience. I will just be thinking about what I know I can do best.”

At the 20th New Zealand Shearing Championships, Fagan will be competing in the Open Shearing, Speed Shear, Icon Circuit, North Island Shearer of the Year and the North versus South Challenge competitions.

Organised by a team of volunteers, the Championships are sponsored by Heiniger, FMG, DB, Merial, Ravensdown, Bayer NZ, Novartis, Air New Zealand, Primary Wools, Elco Direct, Pfizer Animal Health and Wrightson.

A highlight of the Championships will be a ‘Celebrity Shear-off’being held between New Zealand rugby greats Colin Meads and Brian Lochore and Australian rugby star turned television personality Peter Fitzsimons.

More than 300 shearers and woolhandlers are expected to enter the Championships, with entries closing on March 13.

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