Shearing trailblazer Welch wins historic Golden Shears women’s event

Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand, March 4, 2019

Welch wins historic Golden Shears women’s event

Waikaretu shearing contractor, mum-of-four and endurance eventer Emily Welch winning the women’s event at the 59th Golden Shears in Masterton on Saturday. Photo – Pete Nikolaison, Golden Shears.

WITH some of women’s greatest shearing achievements behind her Emily Welch is looking for even better after winning a new women’s event at the 59th Golden Shears in Masterton on Saturday.

The 39-year-old mum-of-four was the instigator of the event, which pitted six of the best-performing women in Golden Shears open, senior and intermediate heats against each other in what Welch hopes is the first step towards eventually establishing a women’s world title.

The next step will be a separate women’s event, with heats and a final, at the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti on March 28-30.

Welch has been on the path a while, since 2007 when she was a close-up second placing in the Golden Shears senior final, the best result achieved by a woman the grade at the achieving the best women’s senior result in the history of the Golden Shears.

Just nine months later, she shore a still-unchallenged women’s world record of 648 lambs in nine hours. She runs a shearing contracting business at Waikaretu with husband and fellow-record-breaking shearer Sam Welch. In 2014, Welch won an invitation women’s event at the Golden Shears and in 2017 she was competing in the open championship heats as part of the making of the now popular docu-movie She Shears. The movie followed the paths of five female shearers to the Golden Shears.

Welch is the daughter of shearer Phillip Woodward, who will travel the world championships in France to manage the Canadian team. The team includes Golden Shears women’s event runner-up Pauline Bolay, a long-time employee of the business in the Port Waikato area during her seasons in New Zealand.

Welch’s competition preparation for the women’s event was limited to one event — the Franklin A and P Show’s Counties Shears in February — as she was troubled by a significant ear infection, but she’s hoping to get more in in the four weeks before the Te Kuiti event. She hopes to continue getting occasional full and part days shearing in the woolshed, but the competition opportunities will still be limited.

Welch is current training includes a 3km morning run for the six-hour Spirited Women orienteering endurance event in Gisborne on March 23. But she’s keen to get the numbers up at Te Kuiti, encouraging the increasing number of female shearers to take to the competition board.

“If we want to have these events we’ve got to have the people entering,” she said.

Third in Saturday’s event of six shearers six sheep each was senior shearer Laura Bradley, of Woodville, one of three university graduates on the board.

The other university graduates competing include Blenheim’s shearing contractor and fulltime shearer Sarah Higgins, who the first person to win Golden Shears titles in wool handling and shearing, and who earlier shore in the Golden Shears Senior semi-finals and the YFC Blue Ribbon championship.

The women’s event was sponsored by Masterton company Abraham shearing, run by successful Open shearer Paerata Abraham and wife Cushla (nee Gordon), an open-class wool handler who had a successful lower grades career as a shearer and a wool handler.

Golden Shears women’s final result (6 sheep): Emily Welch (Waikaretu) 9min 15.858sec, 35.627pts, 1; Pauline Bolay (Canada) 9min 47.475sec, 37.374pts, 2; Laura Bradley (Woodville) 9min 11.843sec, 41.092pts, 3; Sarah Higgins (Blenheim) 10min 0.141sec, 42.84pts, 4; Jills Angus Burney (Masterton) 9min 33.541sec, 46.677pts, 5; Jackie Paku (Wairoa) 12min 6.187sec, 56.309pts, 6.

Source: Shearing Sports New Zealand.


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