London 2012: NZ body calls for sheep shearing to join Olympic sports

File picture of a sheep in Kinder Scout, Derbyshire Peak District in England
Image caption Sheep shearing was also mooted as a possible Olympic sport in Australia in 2008

The Federated Farmers of New Zealand are calling for sheep shearing to become an Olympic sport, pointing to the ''shear hard work'' required.

''I can testify to the physical effort shearing takes,'' said federation spokeswoman Jeanette Maxwell.

Shearing is recognised as a sport by the New Zealand funding body SPARC.

In 2008 Sports Shear Australia, which oversees competitions in the country, also mooted the idea for the Beijing Games.

"Surely, time has come to elevate shearing's sporting status to the ultimate world stage?" said Ms Maxwell, in a statement.

"One way would be to make shearing a demonstration sport at a Commonwealth Games, if not, the Olympics itself."

She emphasised the athleticism of top shearers.

Ivan Scott, the current male world record holder, earned his world eight-hour solo title by sheering 749 lambs, she said.

The women's record holder, Kerri-Jo Te Huia, smashed a previous record by 37, shearing 507 lambs in eight hours.

It takes an average of four hours or more to run a marathon. Hence, the eight-hour sheep shearing period has often been likened to running two marathons in a row.

There is already a global competition in place - the upcoming World Shearing Championships will be held in the New Zealand town of Masterton in March.

Countries besides Australia and New Zealand that have taken part in the competition include Britain and Ireland, Norway and South Africa among others.

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