Wellington: The New Zealand Farmers Federation has called for sheep shearing to become an Olympic sport, hailing top wool-clippers as world-class athletes.
With the World Shearing Championships set to be held in the North Island town of Masterton in March, federation spokeswoman Jeanette Maxwell said shearing was now a bona fide sport that deserved international recognition.
Surely, time has come to elevate shearing's sporting status to the ultimate world stage? One way would be to make shearing a demonstration sport at a Commonwealth Games, if not, the Olympics itself
"Surely, time has come to elevate shearing's sporting status to the ultimate world stage?" she said in a statement. "One way would be to make shearing a demonstration sport at a Commonwealth Games, if not, the Olympics itself."
700 sheep clipped in eight hours
Maxwell said competitive shearers clip up to 700 sheep over an eight-hour period, in a feat that has been likened to running two marathons back-to-back.
"I can also testify to the physical effort shearing takes... (top shearers) are athletes who take it to another level," she said.
The New Zealand's government's elite sports funding body, SPARC, already recognises shearing as a sport, providing it with grants to help run competitions.
New Zealand has a human population of about 4.4 million which is outnumbered by a national sheep flock of around 40 million, according to Statistics New Zealand.