Iceland shearer Heida stands out in crowd

Farmer and sheep scanner Heida Guony poses a unique figure as she goes through the rounds of the machine shearing at the World shearing and woolhandling championships in Invercargill.

On one hand she's from Iceland, and on another she's the only female in the World championships machine shearing, although there were several others in the open-entry Southland All Nations Championships support events, and the woolhandling field is predominantly female.

On another, at the age of 38 she's already been farming 15 years, taking over the 6460 hectares and 500 sheep farm Ljotarstadir when she was just 23, as her now late father became unable to farm the property.

After shearing in yesterday's opening round on lambs and today's second-shear round in the three-round World Championships machine preliminaries, she revealed her path to the championships.

Her teammate, Haflioi Saevarsson is three-times winner of the Iceland championship, which was first held in 2008. "You could say I won the ladies," she said.

But it didn't come with any big rewards, they've paid their own way to New Zealand.

"I was just crazy enough to go," said Guony (pictured). "I just love shearing."

The conditions in New Zealand varied greatly from those in Iceland where there is just one breed, softer wool and climatically suited to conditions in which they are generally housed about seven months of the year.

Arriving in New Zealand in January she had managed a few days' shearing, but attended pre-championships training courses in which she says she learned more in a couple of days than she had in her five years of shearing.

The instructors included 40th anniversary championships committee chairman Tom Wilson and veteran King Country shearer Alan MacDonald, the World champions in 1984 and 1994 respectively.

She managed 52nd place in the first round, in a field reduced from the original 59 to 54 with a small number of late withdrawals.

Shearers accumulate points through the three rounds ending with the fullwool stage tomorrow, the top 12 going to the semi-finals aiming for the places in the six-man final and the championships' glamour title tomorrow night.


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