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Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil bounces back from brain bleed to break world record

EXCLUSIVE Shannon VerhagenCountryman
Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

A Boyup Brook father and shearing legend was overcome with emotion after an incredible world-record breaking shearing marathon just months after a life-threatening health scare.

Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil gave it his all to get the world record.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil gave it his all to get the world record. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

At the final siren, friends and family embraced Floyde Neil as he finally put down his hand piece after a gruelling eight-hours on the stand in Kojonup on Sunday.

Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil celebrates the emotional win with fellow world record shearer Koen Black, who was his 'second' on the day.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil celebrates the emotional win with fellow world record shearer Koen Black, who was his 'second' on the day. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

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While the referees were yet to confirm it — they knew he had beat the record, and so did he.

It was an emotional moment for all, with tears of joy running down Neil’s face as his wife, children, family and friends cheered and threw their arms around him.

“It was really overwhelming,” he said. “I gave it my everything.”

Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil embraces his wife Jordan after the emotional win.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil embraces his wife Jordan after the emotional win. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman
Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil celebrates the emotional win with his son Kalis, 10.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil celebrates the emotional win with his son Kalis, 10. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

He finished with 527 to his name, up three sheep from previous record holder Aidan Copp, who shore 524 crossbred lambs in eight hours back in 2019.

It was a goal the New Zealand-born shearer, who has countless accolades from competitions across the State, had always wanted to achieve.

But it has been a journey fraught with several unforeseen obstacles.

“It’s been three years in the making,” he said. “I’m glad it’s over.”

Originally planning to attempt three world records starting in 2020, his vision was thwart by COVID-19, with travel restrictions rendering the World Sheep Shearing Records Society judges unable to enter WA.

World Sheep Shearing Records Society referees Grant Butcher, Neil Fagan, Mike Henderson and Mark Baldwin.
Camera IconWorld Sheep Shearing Records Society referees Grant Butcher, Neil Fagan, Mike Henderson and Mark Baldwin. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

His nine-hour crossbred lamb attempt cancelled just two weeks out after months of training, he did it anyway — despite it not being able to be officially recorded — breaking the record by 20 and raising $1632 for the Blue Tree Project.

With the pandemic easing, a new date was set for his eight-hour crossbred lamb attempt — November 5.

However, a major health scare derailed his plans once again.

“About three months ago, I ended up having a brain bleed,” Neil said.

“I was training for this (record) and giving it everything, and I thought I was just getting fatigued from training.

“I was getting light-headed all the time and I thought I was just over-training, but I ended up passing out in my room and I was in hospital for a week.”

Once again, he thought he would have to miss out on the opportunity to achieve his dream of breaking a world record.

Until a change of heart at the last minute had the attempt rescheduled.

“I wasn’t even going to do it,” he said.

“You’re only allowed 30 days to tell the referees, and it was about 31 days out and I just went, ‘I’m doing it’”.

After a couple of months of rest, it was just two weeks before Sunday’s herculean effort that he began training again.

Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil gave it his all to get the world record.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil gave it his all to get the world record. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

A nail-biter, the crowd was on the edge of their seats, with Neil down two sheep after the first two-hour run and down six after the second.

Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil celebrated his world record with his family and friends.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil celebrated his world record with his family and friends. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

The tables turned when a second-wind in the third run saw him shear an incredible 140 sheep, placing him nine up on Copp’s pace.

“I knew I had to do something special in the third run or else I’d have to kiss it goodbye,” Neil said.

“Everyone got the sheep right and it was quite warm then so the sheep shore better.”

Emerging for the final two-hour stint, the crowd cheered and filled Kit Anderson’s woolshed at Slab Hut Grazing, with the final tally down to the wire.

“I was confident, thinking, ‘I’m gonna get this real easy,’” he said.

“In my head I was thinking, ‘I should go faster’ and I was feeling good, but I think it was a bit cold, everything was just off a little bit.

“The sheep were a bit cold and didn’t comb as well.

“If it was anything like the third run I would’ve shore 150, but the sheep just weren’t up to it.”

Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil gave it his all to get the world record.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil gave it his all to get the world record. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

It led to a moment of doubt which almost saw him throw in the towel.

“About the last hour I knew I wasn’t quite there,” he said.

“In that last run I was thinking, ‘I’m gonna go this whole day and I’m not going to get it.’

“That’s what was going through my head — ‘I can’t believe I’m gonna go through all of this and I’m gonna let everyone down.’”

Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil gave it his all to get the world record.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil gave it his all to get the world record. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

With the support of his nearest and dearest, including great mate Koen Black — who broke his own world record in October and was by Neil’s side the whole day motivating him — he dug deep and pushed through.

“Everyone’s always believed in me and I’ve always believed in myself, but there was one moment in the last run where I gave up on myself,” Neil said.

“If it wasn’t for Koen and everyone else, my old man there and my young fella cheering me on, I probably would have given it in.”

With five minutes on the clock, Neil shore his 524th animal to thunderous applause.

“That was emotional — I wanted to break down,” he said.

“To know that the job was done, it was very overwhelming.

“But I knew we still had three, four minutes left and I gave it my everything.”

He got three more animals on the board to set a new world record of 527, his world-record status ushered in by a screaming and whistling crowd, packed to the rafters to watch history unfold.

Boyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil celebrated his world record with his wife Jordan Morgan and children Kalis, 10, and Latham, four months.
Camera IconBoyup Brook shearer Floyde Neil celebrated his world record with his wife Jordan Morgan and children Kalis, 10, and Latham, four months. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

His mum and family back home in New Zealand were also cheering him on from a Zoom call.

“I really emptied the tank — it doesn’t show (in the numbers), but I gave everything in that run,” Neil said.

“I’ve been talking about it and telling everyone around me that we’re going to get it done, so it’s good to finally get it done,” he said.

“It takes a lot of pressure off myself knowing that when it comes to the grit of everything, that I can get it done.”

Now taking some time to rest and recoup, Neil still has his sights set on the nine-hour Merino ewe record, which he will attempt in April next year.

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