Wyndham axewoman, Natalie Paterson, has her sights set on the New Zealand Axe Ferns.
The 39-year-old mother of four has had a string of successes over the past few seasons, including taking out the South Island Women’s Underhand title in March 2020 and November 2021.
“I am very pleased with the results,” she said.
“I set a goal and achieved it and it’s given me the confidence to push myself further.”
Paterson was introduced to the sport nine years ago by friend, Richard Templeton, who coached her initially, along with Nelson List.
“I was looking for a new sport following an injury. It was a hobby initially but two years ago I decided to commit and compete in more events,” she said.
“I love woodchopping because I can use the stresses of life as a motivation to train more and harder.”
In March, she was selected for the Stihl Timbersports New Zealand Women’s Championships, a competition where eight women complete in three disciplines.
She placed third.
Training for the event was “really different” from other events, she said.
“I had to prepare physically but also mentally to keep focused for each discipline and I am thankful for the support of coaches Stephen and Craig Unahi,” she said.
Paterson trained in all three disciplines during January and February to prepare, as well as completing an aerobic or HIIT workout two or three days a week.
It was important to balance training with being a mum, so many of her workouts were done at home, she said.
An essential part of training is practising at A&P shows, something which had been difficult this year with many shows postponed or cancelled due to Covid.
A particular challenge was competing on the day her eldest son needed surgery.
“I was very thankful for the support of good friends who looked after our other children to make it possible for me to compete,” she said.
In addition to her training for Axe Fern selection, she always wants to improve in the single saw, which is her weakest discipline.
She said while the sport had traditionally been dominated by men, it was starting to become more popular among women of all ages.
“There are a handful of women in Southland who compete regularly and it’s becoming a lot stronger across regions, which is encouraging.”
Her biggest support is her husband, Matt, and their four children, she said.