Rotorua teen reaching new heights

By Cherie Taylor

Five years ago doctors weren't sure Talor Kahu would walk again - now he's breaking athletics records.

Talor seriously injured his neck when he was tackled during a junior rugby game in 2008 when he was 13.

Doctors were unsure he would walk again, let alone play sports.

However, five years later he's beating the odds and is thriving at sports.

His latest conquest was at his school athletics day when he broke the high jump record held by former All Black Caleb Ralph.

Ralph jumped 186cm and had held the Western Heights High School high jump record since 1996. That was until Talor jumped 187cm during athletics day at the school last week.

The now 17-year-old is finding it difficult to believe he did it.

"I didn't train or anything ... I was just giving everything a go. I'm just a natural jumper because I play volleyball and basketball. I definitely wasn't expecting it though," Talor said.

He's sure it was the students sitting on the bank encouraging him which helped him break the record.

"I didn't think I'd jump that high but the vibe from the whole school was amazing. All the kids were watching."

Ralph, who went on to become a New Zealand sevens player winning a Commonwealth Games gold in 1998 and an All Black, said he didn't even know his jump record was still around.

"I was surprised it stood this long to be honest but I wish him [Talor] all the best for the future," Ralph said.

Talor has reached many milestones since his accident.

While recovering in hospital from his rugby injury, Talor met his idol, former All Black Buck Shelford, after The Daily Post arranged a meeting.

Shelford told him to hang up his rugby boots for a season or two and have a go at basketball.

Since then he has gone on to represent his school and the region in both basketball and volleyball - with the school team winning the volleyball nationals last year and Talor chosen to represent the region in Myanmar at the Asian Volleyball Championships last year.

He was also recently named Western Heights High School Sports Person of the Year.

When asked what his plans were for the future, Talor said he'd like to get back into rugby and maybe play fast-paced sevens.

"I've been around rugby all my life. I love sports. I'd love to play sevens. I'll give it a shot."

Talor's parents and his school coaches believe he has the ability to make it to the top of the sporting world.

Parents Jan and Mark Kahu are stoked with their boy's achievements since he was injured.

Mr Kahu said it was hard for the family when they weren't sure Talor would walk again.

"It was a bit scary there for a while ... we are rapt with him though. He has gone from strength to strength. He's just got to take it seriously now ... at the moment he's just in cruise mode."

School head of athletics Carleen James said Talor could have easily jumped 190cm if he had raised the bar before his first jump, which cleared 187cm "with room to spare".

Other students had tried previously to beat the record with Junior Taia matching Ralph's record last year, Ms James said.

She is convinced Talor is an athlete to keep an eye on.

"He just has natural talent. It's up to him. He's a kid to watch ... he has the speed and agility."

Coach Paora Morrison said the jump was a huge achievement and Talor was definitely going places in the sporting world.

"It was magnificent. The world is his oyster. He will do well in any sport he chooses. He's a natural athlete."


- Rotorua Daily Post

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