Kenya – a hot spot for niche athletic talent
Globally, the best known hot spot for niche athletic talent is Kenya.
The Kalenjin tribe from the Rift Valley Province tend to astonish commentators with their talent and the runners are known to dominate distance events across the world.
“The ones who win marathons and break world records are all from the one area in Kenya,” Kieran says.
“What we’re trying to do is see if there are areas in Papua New Guinea where there is untapped talent. So if we did testing over in Wewak and found that those athletes had really high levels of endurance, whenever someone wants to find endurance athletes they can go directly to that area and just scout from there.”
Strength and conditioning staff from the Papua New Guinea Sports Foundation will work with Kieran on the project. He will test the foundation’s athletes before travelling around Papua New Guinea and hosting open talent camps, where he could be testing 100 to 200 people each day.
Creating a map of PNG’s sports talent
“I’ll be working with those athletes and testing things such as aerobic endurance, strength, power and speed,” he says. “Our overall goal is to create a map of the sports talent in Papua New Guinea.”
The Adelaide-born and Cairns-raised researcher already has a strong relationship with Papua New Guinea. His mother is from there and Kieran worked there before starting his Honours thesis. He hopes that his research will enhance the country’s long-term sporting future and help Papua New Guinea reach their goal of being in the top 10 Commonwealth countries for sport.
“My mum is from PNG and I’m looking forward to being able to give back to the community there,” he says. “I just think there is that much untapped talent we could be missing out on — not just for Papua New Guinea but on the world stage, as well. I’d like to work in Papua New Guinea in the sports industry, especially in talent ID. There just seems to be so much talent in PNG we haven’t had access to.”