Kiribati comes into the competition confident of medaling and breaking national records, while Federated States of Micronesia sprinter John Howard was not able to make the trip to Saipan.
According to FSM coach Elias Rodriguez, Howard, already known as a strong contender in the sprint events and the 2002 Micronesian Games Outstanding Male Athlete Award recipient, was not able to make the Championships.
At the 2002 Games, Howard dominated the sprint events and broke three records, two of which he set earlier in his career.
FSM was also without Howard’s brother Jack earlier yesterday, and Rodriguez said there was a big chance his top sprinter would miss yesterday’s 100m dash due to academic obligations.
Rodriguez, however, said the FSM delegation is fortunate that the Oceania Council allowed Jack Howard to compete in later MAC events even if he misses his first scheduled event.
“Actually, if you’re sign up to race four events, and you miss the first event, you’ll be scratched out from the other events…but I’m happy that we asked them and they said it will be okay for him, even though he misses the first event. So I’m really happy about that.”
Meanwhile, the Kiribati delegation looks to possibly break two of its national hammer throw records as it guns for medals.
Delegation head David Little said the team was assembled with the focus of producing positive results for future benefits.
“It cost Oceania a lot of money for us to come here, and if we can produce good results, [government] can be more easily persuaded to give us money,” he said. “So we worked hard on events that not many in Micronesia do, such as the triple jump, long jump, throws…long distance. It’s partly to get success, and also recognition for the country,” he added, citing that other programs from Palau, Guam, and FSM are strong in sprints.
Little explained that his eight athletes who will compete in a total of 23 events were selected because “they were the best that can do more than one event,” as he again cited the cost for the trip.
Although unable to provide an exact number, Little indicated that the delegation’s target in terms of medal haul is to surpass their performance in the inaugural MAC held in Palau two years ago.