He’s 68 and, some would say, should be thinking of retiring.
But that’s not the way for the oldest person in the Golden Shears Open shearing championship elder statesman and Carterton shearer Richard Pearson.
After his annual pilgrimage to the Masterton War Memorial Stadium and for his six sheep in the glamour event’s heats today, he said: “I first shore here in 1974. I’ve missed a couple, but I want to still be up there when I’ve been doing Golden Shears for 50 years.”
Far away from the limelight he’s never come close to shearing in the big Saturday night final, the highlight among the simple of highlight of competing among the greats being in 2001 when he qualified for the Top 30 quarterfinal shootout.
It was his only time reaching what is a dream for many shearers, but he said: “I’ve come close a few times, - 31, 32, 34…”
“I look at this way, if I were a tennis player I couldn’t compete against Roger Federer, or Rafael Nadal, if I was a golfer I couldn’t play against Tiger Woods,” he said. “But I can come to the Golden Shears each year and still compete against the best in the World.”
From Southampton, England, he first started shearing in the Falkland Islands in 1963, with blades.
He’s since worked around the World, and he’s still gettinn plenty of practice. With his own run, all within about half-an-hour of Carterton, and shearing by himself or one or two others when necessary, with woolhandling usually done by the farmers, he still shears about 15,000 a year, and is still capable of 250 in a day.
Up against a field of more than 70, including the likes of hot favourite Rowland Smith and World Champion John Kirkpatrick, he wasn’t expecting to achieve the dream of making the Friday night quarterfinals, but said: “I went as well as I expected to go. I shore the whole six.”
Among those in the audience today was the sole survivor of the original Golden Shears Open final, Ian “Snow” Harrison, who at 83 still ventures of out his retirement village in Invercargill to shear a few sheep each year.
From Doug Laing, media officer, Shearing Sports New Zealand.