WORLD CHAMPION: Grafton's Chris Owen has returned from the Canterbury A&P Show in New Zealand as the 350mm standing block world champion while representing NSW.
WORLD CHAMPION: Grafton's Chris Owen has returned from the Canterbury A&P Show in New Zealand as the 350mm standing block world champion while representing NSW. Adam Hourigan

Owen chops off his maiden World title in NZ

WOODCHOPPING: As Chris Owen struck his standing block for the final time he could hear nothing but the sound of top wood splitting in half.

He could not hear the raucous crowd watching on in amazement, he could not hear the announcer crowing across the crackling Tannoy, he could not even hear the heavy chop of the bloke standing less than a metre to his right.

Owen was focused as he smashed through his block in 40 seconds to be crowned the 2016 Les Gilsenan Memorial 350mm standing block world champion.

It was that level of focus which the Grafton axeman credits as a big reason he clinched his maiden world title at the recent Canterbury A and P Show in New Zealand.

"You need to be cutting and thinking about what you are doing with every swing," he said. "The focus and concentration is paramount.

"Even on those finals swings when you're tired you need to be in the right headspace because one wrong swing can bring it all undone."

This journey was the fifth time Owen had travelled to New Zealand to represent New South Wales and the state and while he knew he could make the final, he never expected to come home a world champion.

"It was an awesome feeling when I raised the hand after that final chop," Owen said. "I was full of nerves heading into the competition. I thought I would go close but I never thought I would get that close.

"We don't normally cut that size log so it feels like you are taking longer than you really should be. In my head I was sure someone had finished before me but I just kept chopping.

"I just had to focus on that block - if you haven't got your mind on the job you start missing the proper cuts. But when the crowd started clapping after the block feel it was a moment of relief and a bit of disbelief."

While the journey started at humble beginnings on his grandfather Max Kroehnert's property some 15 years ago, Owen has now been able to take the knowledge Kroehnert instilled in him to the world stage.

"He was one of the people that first got me into the sport and has trained me and my brother up from a young age," he said.

"He has done the sport for 60 or 70 years and he gave all those years of knowledge to me. Without that I wouldn't be a world champion."

Owen will now return to the North Coast Axemen circuit ahead of the Australian championships in mid-January followed by the all important Sydney Royal Show in April.

"If I win at Sydney that would be the only way this moment could get sweeter," he said.

The Valley axeman dreams of joining the Australian Chopperoos on the Stihl Timbersports World Stage but for the moment he is still celebrating his new world standard notch on the blade.



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