Baty bolts into New Zealand team

A bolter. It's an oft-used term in the sporting world, thrown about regularly and sometimes inappropriately. But it sits comfortably with Gisborne's Mary-Anne Baty this morning.

Yesterday Baty completed a remarkable three weeks by being named alongside Joel Henare in the CP Wool Shearing Sports New Zealand Woolhandling team to compete at the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill in February.

Baty had to rely on a strong finish in the final qualifier of the six-event year-long series in Hastings in October to sneak into the six-person Selection Final on a countback. She then made the most of her opportunity to qualify third from the semi-finals and take second-place behind Henare to earn New Zealand selection. But it could have been a very different story.

"At the start of the season I didn't think I would make it very far and I was nearly going to pull out at the Hawkes Bay Show a couple of weeks ago but I thought I would give it another go. I was doubting myself, not thinking I was good enough to make it through," Baty said.

"The support of my family and the dream of becoming a world team member is what's made the difference," she said.

"I've dreamed of this for ten years, watching other masters of the game come up, Keryn (Herbert), Joel (Henare), Tina Rimene, Sheree Alabaster. I've been watching them when I was in the lower grades and I always thought I would love to represent my country. It's going to take a while for this to sink in but I'm looking forward to the Worlds and everything that comes with it," Baty said.

Baty was part of a three-person final alongside Henare and Alexandra's Pagan Karauria after the semi-final round earlier in the afternoon. She was first to finish on time in the final, while Henare dominated in the board, oddments and fleece points.

The two will form a formidable team for New Zealand in February with Henare, the 2012 World Champion, set to contest his third World Championship at the age of just 25.

"Joel and I have worked together inside the shearing shed a lot over the last ten years so I know how he operates and I'm just happy to be there with one of the world's best," Baty said.

Now, the real work begins as both Baty and Henare look to put the finishing touches on their championship preparation. "It's about a lot of training, getting fit and getting the mind fit," Henare said.

The Woolhandling result whets the appetite for today's shearing selection events.

The machine shearing selections will be determined by the highest two finishers in a 6-stand final. Reigning World, Golden Shears and New Zealand champion Rowland Smith, 30, of Hastings, faces stiff opposition from a quintet of New Zealand representatives.

They are headed by Smith's 2014 World Championship teammate John Kirkpatrick, 45, of Napier, Southland hopes Nathan Stratford, 42, and 2000 World Championships runner-up Darin Forde, 51, Pongaroa farmer David Buick, 38, and Feilding shearer Aaron Haynes, 28.

Meanwhile Fairlie's Tony Dobbs, 54, has already secured one of the two blade shearing selections and is the favourite to complete a clean sweep of events in that discipline's selection series today.

He will be joined in the World Champs team by either Phil Oldfield, 55, of Geraldine, or Tim Hogg, 37, from Timaru. Those two are tied on points in second place with the higher finisher joining Dobbs in booking a ticket for Invercargill in three months.


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