Jade Rider could be on the cusp of unearthing the next big thing in the Pacific.
The 20-year-old is the first Bond University student to undertake an internship with the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport in Honiara.
She flew into the country on Monday to help identify athletes for the Pacific Games, which the Solomon Islands is hosting for the first time at the end of next year. The country was awarded the multi-sport event over fellow bidder Tahiti.
“I think it will be very eye opening, even with as much prep as I’ve done in the past few weeks,” said Rider.
“I’m not so much expecting a culture shock, but I think I will learn a lot and it will be possibly life changing.”
Her ground breaking four-week trip is funded by the New Colombo Plan, which is an Australian Government initiative supporting university undergraduates to gain better knowledge of the region and build relationships.
In the past, Bond students studying an Exercise and Sports Science degree were often allocated internships with the University’s elite programs of AFL, rugby and swimming.
Rider started her talent ID work with her Solomon Islands counterparts eight months ago via zoom and email.
On the ground in the country’s capital, she will be using the knowledge she has gained both during her degree, and over the years she was a competitive swimmer.
She will run a range of tests on local high school students and university students to identify their physical traits and abilities.
“Vertical jump, beep test, 30m sprints, overhead throws, the list goes on,” she said.
“A lot of staff over there haven’t had experience in the sport science realm, so I will also be showing them how to conduct these tests reliably, so they can identify who the talented athletes are.”
The data will ultimately be used to determine which of the 24 sports at the Pacific Games the local athletes will be best suited to.
At the last Pacific Games in Samoa in 2019, the Solomon Islands finished 13th overall, with 36 medals including four gold.
“There are a fair few team sports in the games like rugby union, rugby league, soccer, netball and basketball.
“They have a few combat spots like judo and taekwondo. They also have weightlifting disciplines and individual based sports like swimming, triathlon, athletics. They do traditional canoeing too,” she said.
Rider knows all about being pushed to the limit as an athlete.
Growing up in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, she was surrounded by opportunities to improve her swimming.
Her commitment to the black line enticed her to move to the Gold Coast to swim with Bond University. Then her love of learning took over.
“I have quit swimming and I am absolutely loving what I am studying, which I didn’t really expect. For me sport science is more of a pathway, but I love it and study is my focus now,” she said.
The Excellence Scholarship holder will finish her degree later this year, and then she is hoping to commence a Master of Research at Bond.
Her trip the Solomon Islands will no doubt encourage more Bondies to make a difference in the Pacific.
“At least within my degree seeing at least one person go over will make it a lot more appealing for other students to want to have that experience,” she said.