By John Keast
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.
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.
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.
He qualified second behind a South African shearer.
Heat and nervousness meant he did not get a lot of sleep before the finals.