Shear brilliance from Waikaretu wonder woman

Another recycled article from the old Exposures Online Website archives originally published 27th March 2007

She may be petite but Waikaretu’s Emily Welch is one tough and determined competitor.

The 27-year-old beat 40 male shearers to take the senior runner-up title at the weekend’s 47th Golden Shears in Masterton, a feat never accomplished by a woman.

“I went into the competition really well prepared. It was one of those competitions where everything just clicked.

I’m normally much slower, and I combed a lot better than usual. I can’t really explain why but everything just seemed to go right,” says Emily.

Emily impressed judges with her speed and quality. The final saw her shear 10 sheep in 11 minutes 28 seconds. “The judges were pretty happy with me. Allan McDonald (former world record holder) told me it was the best he had ever seen me,” she says.

Emily was nudged out of a win by Marlborough’s Angus Moore.

She says there was the odd man who refused to accept her success, but the majority were ecstatic to see her do well.

“Most were pretty good. I didn’t have time to chat to my competitors but all the guys in the open category were really happy, I got heaps of support from them,” she says.

Encouraged by her father, Phillip Woodward, Emily took up shearing five years ago. She and Phillip hold the unofficial record for father-daughter shearing team.

Emily’s husband, Sam, also competed at the Golden Shears in the open category where he placed 29th out of 90.

Emily attributes a lot of her recent success to Sam’s support.

“I don’t think I would have made it so far without his support. He was there on the sideline yelling at me to breathe. He and dad were pretty happy ?- there were a few tears,” she says.

Emily says it’s a lot harder for a woman to climb the shearing ladder. “It’s very hard work. It’s very physical and you have to be determined to stick at it.”

As for being a role model for aspiring female shearers, Emily says:

“I think it’s good for girls starting out to see that a woman can do it. I was getting told that the sheep were too big for me – I proved them wrong.”

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