Olympian adds gumboot throwing and egg throwing & catching to list of titles

National records in two iconic rural sports were broken at the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games today.

Olympic decathlete Brent Newdick and teammate Luke Wainui (both Auckland) became the new national record holders in the NZ Egg Throwing and Catching Championship in association with Central Gold Eggs, with a throw of 63.73m – just half a metre ahead of their nearest competitor. The pair beat last year’s record of 61.7m, set by former All Blacks Jeff Wilson and Justin Marshall last year.

Egg throw and catch champions

Brent Newdick (L) and Luke Wainui (R); credit – Paul Green

Thrower Newdick and catcher Wainui drew cheers from hundreds of people lining up to watch at the Queenstown Recreation Ground, on the second and final day of the Games. Newdick – who had earlier retained his NZ Gumboot Throwing Championship title – says today’s achievement was “classic”, given that the pair had no practice before today.

“With cricket players from England and Otago, and Black Diamonds baseballers here, I guess you could say we were the underdogs,” he says.

The NZ women’s record in gumboot throwing was today broken by Kristin Churchward (Taihape), who threw 34.45m in the NZ Gumboot Throwing Championship sponsored by Skellerup in association with Interislander. Churchward beat defending champion Mairead Fox (Dunedin), who threw the boot 31.72m. Janet Harrison (Taihape) took third place with 28.26m. Churchward expects to compete at Taihape Gumboot Day on March 12, 2016, before hoping to travel to Finland for the 2016 World Boot Throwing Championships in July.

It was a memorable day for Kristin Churchward as she was also judged the Outstanding Rural Sports Competitor at this year’s Games, collecting the inaugural Grumpy Graham Trophy created in memory of Games founding patron Neil ‘Grumpy’ Graham.

In the day’s first national-level event, Matt Jones (Levin) retained his title in the NZ Speed Fencing Championship co-founded by FCANZ and Fairbrother Industries and presented in association with Wiremark and Kinghitter Post Drivers. Tom Dingle (Papakura) was second with Mike Billinghurst (Feilding) third as North Island fencers dominated the event that attracted an enthusiastic crowd.

Speed fencing

NZ Speed Fencing Championship; credit Paul Green

In the popular Trans-Tasman Cherry Stone Spitting Competition presented by Cromwell Cherry Festival in association with the Pig & Whistle Pub, reigning NZ and Australian champ Clinton Thompson (Perth) lost his NZ title today to Thibault Fournand (Lyon, France), who spat the stone 12.5m. Thompson’s effort was 10.75m today. Cromwell’s Mike Wardill came in third with a distance of 10.55m.

In the women’s cherry stone spitting, Kayla Hyland (Taihape) spat her stone 8.12m. Second place was Josie Pirie (Balclutha) with a distance of 7.5m and third was Karen McKerchar (Roxburgh), with 6.5m.

West Coast coal miners wowed the crowds with their speed and technique during the NZ Coal Shovelling Championship in association with RD Petroleum and Roa Mining. Competitors – which also included amateurs from Wales, Austria, Scotland and England – had to shovel 500kg of coal into a hopper in the quickest time.

Roa Mines worker Glen Gibb, a 1985 NZ rugby league player, won the individual event in 1min 41.16sec. Gibb and his partner Brian Coghlan won the teams event in 40.68sec. Coghlan holds the world record for shovelling half a tonne in 14.8sec, set in 2004 with teammate Piet Groot.

Today’s spectacle was an opportunity to showcase the historic sport. It was also poignant for Gibb and Coghlan, with their employer Roa Mines closing its underground mine and moving to opencast last month. “Even though we don’t shovel coal underground anymore, and we don’t use shovels at work, it is an opportunity to show people that coal is still important. Coal is used in the dairy and construction industries – some companies can’t do without it,” Gibb says.

Rotorua’s Sarah Coatsworth was crowned the country’s best female DIYer at the Mitre 10 New Zealand Women’s DIY Challenge. Coatsworth and two other women – Rosanne Donaldson (Queenstown) and Janine Hayde (Pukekohe) – were tested over the two days to build a playhouse-sized barn and put up a fence with speed, precision and workmanship.

Other titles decided on day two were the NZ Speed Hand Milking Championship in association with Fonterra, and cowpat tossing for the Bill Tapley Memorial Trophy in association with Matagouri Meats. Hundreds of children enjoyed another day of fun contests in Jetstar Kids ‘n Country and grown ups were able to have a go at hay bale stacking over at the Toyota marquee.

The Games’ final event saw world champion Rowland Smith take the narrowest of wins over Leon Samuels with Paerata Abraham third in the NZ Speed Shear Championship presented by Toyota Hilux in association with Acto, Supershear and Listers.

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games founder Steve Hollander reflected on a hugely successful weekend with an estimated total of 6,000 people through the gates over the two days plus an additional crowd watching yesterday’s Running of the Wools in central Queenstown estimated in excess of 8,000 people.

“We’ve been blown away by the number of locals and tourists of all ages who have turned up to support these Games. What’s been even more impressive is the sheer number of kids and adults turning up to have a go at many of the individual events. Some may never have been on a farm before, so to show them a glimpse of rural life, right here in the heart of Queenstown, is pretty special. We look forward to another outstanding event next year,” Hollander says.