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Stratford - shearing his success

Article by Rebecca Moore - The Southland Times.

He is modest but that does not mean he is not capable of winning the world shearing championships.

Nathan Stratford had a winning streak at the Lumsden and Winton shearing competitions on Friday and Saturday.

Stratford took out first place in the open final in both competitions.

"It was good to have a win," he said.

At the Northern Southland Shears in Lumsden on Friday, Stratford won the open final of 20 sheep.

"The sheep were strong and it was a hard final," he said.

At the Southland Shears in Winton on Saturday, he also won the open final of 20 lambs. There were some strong competitors, including two world record holders and a current world team member in his category, he said.

The competition was "old meets new," with a range of shearers from different backgrounds. Stratford's game plan was to keep up with the winners, he said.

"Everyone at the worlds will be strong shearers but no-one knows what each round has to offer," he said.

World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships chairman Tom Wilson said Stratford showed a lot of authority at the two competitions.

Winning both categories was a "promising result," Wilson said.

"He dominated down here. It's a tremendous boost for him to have that domination at the two comps."

However, bagging the top spots had not gone to Stratford's head; he remained modest about his achievements. "There's room for improvement and it's all about fine tuning now."

The two competitions had a lot of impressive players internationally, which would make predicting the world championships result difficult, Wilson said.

"It's going to be tough but Nathan's in with a good chance."

The World Championships will be held at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill, between February 8 and 11.

Shearers from about 30 countries are expected to turn out for the competition.

Shearing Sports New Zealand Media Officer Doug Laing said this year's worlds had the most entrants to date but he was confident he would see Stratford in the final.

Stratford qualified for the worlds on November 11 after finishing second, behind johnny Kirkpatrick, of Napier, in a six-man final at the Canterbury A&P Show, with the top two qualifying to represent New Zealand.

The accomplishment was based on hard work, with Stratford doing extra training, refining gym programmes and getting tips from a dietitian in the lead-up to the worlds.