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Fagan Retains Shearing Champion Status

Fagan Retains Champion Status

David Fagan reigned supreme at the 20th anniversary New Zealand Shearing Championships, claiming his 14th New Zealand open shearing title last night.

Competing in his home town of Te Kuiti and in front of a record crowd of about 1500 people, Fagan finished shearing his 20 sheep in 14 minutes and just seconds ahead of closest rival Paul Avery of Stratford.

He then had a nervous wait of 45 minutes before he was announced the winner by just 2.28 points over Avery with Napier's John Kirkpatrick placing third, a further 1.03 points behind.

Fagan, aged 42, said the win was special, being the Championships 20th anniversary.

"I had to be at the top of my game to win and I thought I hadn't done enough. It's absolutely incredible - I can't believe I can still beat these guys.

"If there was ever a time to retire this would be it, but I will put that on hold."

Fagan collected a prize package worth $20,000 and was also named Shearer of the Year and in the New Zealand team to compete in tests against Wales and Canada later this year.

Avery, who beat Fagan in the Icon Circuit final earlier in the evening, was also named in the New Zealand team.

A Celebrity Shear-off between New Zealand rugby greats Brian Lochore and Colin Meads and former Australian rugby player turned TV personality Peter FitzSimons proved a show stopper, with Lochore showing the best form.

After FitzSimons allowed Fagan to shear off his hair to raise funds for charity. In all, more than $3000 was raised for local charities including Kiwi Can Trust, St John Ambulance and Te Kuiti Fire Brigade.

Earlier in the day a 'Sheep Run' through Te Kuiti's main street captured people's imagination as thousands lined the streets to allow 2000 sheep to run pass.

Led by National MP Shane Ardern on Myrtle the tractor and Lochore and Meads on four-wheel farm bikes, the sheep did a circuit through town before returning to pasture.

The voluntary committee running the Championships is already considering how the Sheep Run can be developed for next year's event.

President John Grainger says the Championships were the most successful ever and had given shearing some deserved recognition.

"We wanted to make this year's 20th event special and have been overwhelmed with the support we have received. The recognition goes to an incredible team of people, all volunteers, who pull these Championships together.

"There's no one getting paid to do this and there must be more than 100 people involved. It's great for them and for Te Kuiti."

Major sponsors of the Championships include Heiniger, FMG, DB and Merial.

The Winners:

* Icon Circuit - Paul Avery, Stratford

* North Island Shearer of the Year - Dean Ball, Te Kuiti

* Open Plate Speed Shear - James Fagan, Te Kuiti

* Brothers Event - Kirkpatrick No. 1, Napier

* Warrnambool vs NZ Shears - NZ Shears

* Open Woolhandling - Sheree Alabaster, Taihape

* Open Final - David Fagan, Te Kuiti

* North vs South - South Island

* Senior Champion - Adam Brausch, Dannevirke

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