Nathan Stratford claims Golden Shears gold
For years it was the award that eluded him, and it was an emotional time for Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford when he claimed the PGG Wrightson National Circuit final at the Golden Shears.
After winning on Saturday, Stratford became the country's top multi-breeds shearer.
The prestigious three-day event drew international competitors from Australia and the United Kingdom.
"It is like the Olympics of shearing," Stratford said.
Stratford, who has been shearing for 18 seasons, said he had been trying to win the event for the past five or six years.
"From practising every day in the sheds to going the gym outside of work, it is an event you really have to aim to win, " he said.
Despite the physical exertion, Stratford said the hardest part was leaving his family every weekend.
"Having your wife and family behind you, who understand why you are away every weekend, is the greatest support."
When he phoned his wife after the win she almost "screamed the house down," he said.
Shearing Sports New Zealand communications officer Doug Laing said Stratford won despite being fourth to finish.
"It was Nate's quality that got him over the line," he said.
The Southland Times