World record attempt on the cards for Boyup Brook speed shearer Floyde Neil
After a celebrated career and dozens of accolades, Boyup Brook speed shearing champion Floyde Neil is retiring from competition — but not before having a crack at three world records.
On November 5, the 29-year-old will attempt to etch his name in the history books by shearing more than 524 crossbred lambs in eight hours.
A week later, after a well-earned rest, he will try to set the nine-hour record by shearing 600 or more crossbred lambs.
The final record attempt will come five months later on April 22, when Floyde will attempt to shear more than 530 Merino ewes in nine hours.
“I had a vision and a plan that when I turned 27 or 28, I wanted to give three years of my life to just doing records,” he recalled.
“But then two years got eaten up by COVID.
“In 2020, I trained right up until about two weeks out and then my first attempt was cancelled because we couldn’t get the (World Sheep Shearing Records Society) judges into WA.”
Floyde was not about to let eight months of training go to waste, however, so he went for it anyway.
Official recognition be damned, he successfully shore 544 first-cross lambs in eight hours at Craig and Liz Heggaton’s Kojonup woolshed.
The herculean effort saw him smash fellow Kiwi Aidan Copp’s 2019 world record of 524 while raising $1632 for the Blue Tree Project.
With an unofficial record under his belt, the father-of-one decided to have one last crack at glory before focusing full time on his shearing business, Shear Pride.
“I was lying in bed one night and I was like ‘I’ve either got to do it now or it’s never going to happen’,” Floyde said.
“It’s not easy to get your body back into shape and I could feel my body going the other way.
“I know that if I can at least give it a go then I’ll die a happy man.”
Floyde is now completing another grueling training regime involving plenty of running, mobility strength and, of course, shearing.
When Countryman called he was in the middle of taking an ice bath, though he was happy to be interviewed, saying the distraction would help him stay in the frigid water for longer.
“Before COVID, my drive to (compete) and stay fit and hungry was money, but now I’m a shearing contractor, the money is not the reason anymore,” he said.
“It keeps me hungry doing this, so I’ll just give it one last go, because why not?
“A lot of people wouldn’t want to put it out there because they get scared of ‘what if I don’t get it?’.
“But the more people I tell, the more motivated it makes me to not let them down… and I wouldn’t attempt these records if I didn’t think I could do them.”
Hailing from Taumarunui on New Zealand’s North Island, Floyde — whose father Roger Neil is a multiple world record shearing champion — moved to Australia in 2016.
Since shearing his first sheep aged 12, Floyde has won several dozen prestigious competitions, including the 2015 New Zealand Championships seniors title.
And the family tradition could continue for at least another generation if 10-year-old son Kalis follows in his dad’s footsteps, though that remains to be seen.
“He’s at that age where he’s like ‘nah, I’m just going to play cricket and be a footy star’,” Floyde said with a chuckle.
“I can relate, because at that age I never wanted to be a shearer. I remember looking at my dad at work and thinking ‘why anyone want to do this?’.”
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