As Ken Kahu left the Arafura Games stadium in Darwin Australia in April, people shook hands, slapped him on the back and said “Your life will change forever after this!”
So what was the excitement about?
Ken Kahu had just thrown 47.60 metres in javelin. In the parasports sector, this not only placed him 4th in the entire world in rankings but also immediately qualified him for entry to the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo!
“I just could not believe what I had witnessed,” commented Raylene Bates, a high performance Olympics and Paralympics coach from New Zealand. “I have not seen a javelin thrower throwing as sweetly and effortlessly for at least 5 years – and I travel everywhere around the world and know all the top throwers. This young man’s talent is simply awesome!”
Ken’s throwing is even more amazing when you consider the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee has not been able to mobilise a throwing coach for its team for shot put and for javelin.
“We use YouTube videos to show our throwers the technique and then our track coaches who are very good with general fitness and running program take over. But to have a specialist throwing coach – even for just a short time – would be wonderful. Then the throwing coach could train both our athletes plus their coaches,” responded Margaret Macfarlane. “As well, we have an MOU with Athletics Vanuatu to run integrated programs, so this would have also provided an opportunity for Athletics Vanuatu coaches and athletes but alas! No luck in getting a specialist here before the Pacific Games.”
In less than a week’s time, Ken will travel to Samoa with Team Vanuatu. On return, Ken needs to keep training as he has already been invited to the World Athletics Championships in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. There are competitions he could attend in Australia or New Zealand as well that are being investigated.
But the exciting news for Ken is that the Nippon Science & Sports University (NSSU) has contacted the Paralympic Committee to offer a trip to Tokyo for training for Ken and his coach Deni Kalenga.
As well, Ken will fly south to Chikujo, a small town that has offered to act as host to parathletes from Vanuatu and Fiji. Ken will stay with a Japanese family to experience traditional Japanese customs and culture from 11th to 14th September, then back to Tokyo from 14th to 18th September for training and an input with that elusive throwing coach!
It has certainly been a life changing few months and Ken’s adventure is only just beginning!