Top Shearer’s fitness program keeps him competitive

Nathan Stratford checks out the new Hyundai Santa Fe which he will use for free for 12 months as part of his prize for winning the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit Championship.

Kavinda Herath/Things

Nathan Stratford checks out the new Hyundai Santa Fe which he will use for free for 12 months as part of his prize for winning the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit Championship.

  • Fitness training helps Southland shearer to national title
  • New car picked up to use for free for 12 months

Southland’s top shearer Nathan Stratford firmly believes gym training has made him more competitive.

This year, he concluded his 25th season on the Shearing Sports New Zealand Open-class circuit by winning the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit Championship.

An award ceremony was held on Thursday at the GWD Motor Group building in Invercargill to present him with the bulk of the prize – a free one-year lease on a Hyundai Santa Fe.

“As with any sport, what you put in is what you get out,” Stratford said of his preparation for shaving competitions across the country.

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After a day’s work in the shaving sheds, Stratford went out at night to do strength training and exercise on a rowing machine and cross trainer at World Health & Fitness in Invercargill. That happened five nights a week.

It helped build the high level of fitness needed for competitions, he said.

An understanding wife and family made it possible for Stratford to spend some of his free time at the gym and traveling to competitions.

“At night you come home from work and then away to the gym…you may only see them [wife and kids] for 10 minutes before going to the gym,” Stratford said.

He wants to continue shaving competitively outside the working hours of his employer, Rabbidge Shearing, and remains available to help others in the industry with advice.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in 45 of the 59 shaving events in New Zealand last season being cancelled, 14 of them under restrictions.

It was disappointing that games were canceled but Stratford remained positive, he said.

“You had to keep your wits about you. You still had to keep going in the barns and doing the things you were supposed to do… keep going and keep thinking positive.”

Shearing Sports NZ chairman Sir David Fagan said Stratford absolutely deserved to win the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit Championship.

It was a sought-after mixed-race title and the circuit’s 50th year, Fagan said.

“Nathan has shown for a few decades that he is capable of shaving all breeds and saying it all the way he does.”

“Over the last five years he has gotten better with his age and a little more experience.”

Stratford was not only consistent and his “firm determination” but had always been a quality shaver, “said Fagan.

“As long as I remember, it’s the quality that got him through it.”

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