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Dream Realised for American Grandfather


I have been really blessed in my life but being here at the Golden Shears in New Zealand is the biggest thing that has ever happened in my life.” (Gordy Swenson)

Californian Gordy Swenson reckons he is the world's biggest fan of the premier shearing contest, the Golden Shears.

That might not seem an odd thing, but the 71-year-old Californian not only has never sat in the stands and cheered on contestants at the Golden Shears in Masterton, but he has never been to New Zealand. Not even close to this side of the world. He hates travel which would take him away from his little ranch in the Too Rock valley, but the dream of stepping foot inside the stadium that stages the Olympics of shearing and woolhandling contests has changed his life.

The former cement layer taught himself to shear as a 12 year old to look after three pet sheep and spent decades shearing after work and every weekend to earn enough money to buy his own plot of land.

“I learned about the Golden Shears way back 30 some years ago. I was told it was the best competition in the world, but it is like so many things in life, you want to do it more than anything, but you just never seem to get there.”

Three weeks ago, Gordy and his wife touched down in NZ, and so the journey to living that dream began.

“It's been 30 years of talking about it and I promised my wife that I would do this trip for us. And here we are. I'm not just saying this because it is true. I have been really blessed in my life but being here at the Golden Shears in New Zealand is the biggest thing that has ever happened in my life.”

Gordy had originally planned to compete in the senior shearing championship, but a “slight misunderstanding” and a knock last week to his recently replaced knee led him to withdraw from the heats today but not before he collected his Golden Shears competitors t-shirt.

“Where I used to do a lot of my shearing in Denver, we have a seniors competition but it is for 65-year-olds and over. I turned up here and realised the seniors here at Golden Shears meant the really good guys who are all pretty young. I also shear pretty slow and two-handed, which to be honest, is the damdest thing to watch.”

But, even being out of the contest hasn't taken any shine off the fact Gordy Swenson made it to the Golden Shears.

“This has been so exciting, just being here. It's the biggest tick on my bucket list and I'll remember this time forever.”


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