Bid for sheep shearing at the Olympics

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The Independent Online

It was a world record, even if it passed much of the world by: last week a New Zealander, Kerri-Jo Te Huia, became the first woman to shear more than 500 lambs in eight hours.

Now a farm lobby group in New Zealand – widely considered the spiritual home of sheep shearing, although Australia might disagree – wants such feats to be recognised more widely. It is calling for shearing to become an Olympic demonstration sport.

Jeanette Maxwell, chairwoman of Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre, said Ms Te Huia and the men's world title-holder, Ivan Scott of Ireland, illustrated the athleticism required to reach the top. Clipping 749 lambs in eight hours – as Mr Scott did recently – had been likened to running two marathons back to back. "Surely [the] time has come to elevate shearing's sporting status to the ultimate world stage?" Ms Maxwell said, adding that it could become a demonstration sport at the Commonwealth Games or even the Olympics.

New Zealand is preparing to host the world championships in March. However, only a few other countries – primarily Australia and Ireland – share its enthusiasm for shearing, which means the Olympic bid may fall at the first hurdle.