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Ford set to go another around despite end to 2017 champs

The near 20-year World Championships career of veteran American blade shearer Kevin Ford is unlikely to have come to an end despite just missing the goal of a semi-final place, at the age of 71.

Ford, the oldest of 116 competitors who were entered in the four-day 40th anniversary World shearing and woolhandling championships in Invercargill's ILT Stadium Southland was 13th in the two rounds of blade shearing heats – just missing a place in the top 12 for the semi-finals and the chance of a final in front of 4000 spectators tonight.

Just after his last appearance on the stage today, Ford, from Charlemont, Massachusetts, reckoned he'd still have one more World championships in him.

Teammate Loren Opstedahl reckoned the 2019 championships, 21 years after Ford's first ever competition, at the 1998 World Championships in Ireland, sounded a good idea.

The event in two years' time was this week awarded to Le Dorat, in Central France, a venue many were regarding as an irresistible opportunity, whether competing, supporting, or sightseeing.

Ford started blade shearing in 1975 – "I was 31 when I started" - and has shorn mainly around Massachusetts but in six states, shearing about 3000 in the last year.

"I've got one (championships) in me at least," said the US national blade shearing champion looking ahead to 2019. "I'm getting better."

It didn't pass unnoticed to machine shearer Jack Fagan from the commentary box as Ford put in the last blow of his 2017 event. Said Fagan, the son of machine shearing legend Sir David Fagan: "Don't forget Kevin Ford down thre on Stant d. He's a bit longer in the tooth, but a bit wiser in the brain as well."

Life is not all blade shearing for Ford. He's also a competent wood turner, and has timber replicas of shearing handpieces among his collections.