About 15 years ago, Elias Rodriguez of the Federated States of Micronesia came to Saipan and dominated his events in the 2nd Micronesian Games.
Rodriguez made a return to Saipan Tuesday night, and this time, serves as coach of the FSM delegation.
Rodriguez, who is known by many around the region for his accomplishments in distance running, was so dominant in 1990 that by the time the Games were officially in the books, he had already secured four gold and a silver medal for FSM, thus, taking home the Outstanding Male Athlete Award.
The phenom struck gold in the marathon, 5,000-meter event, 1,500m, and the 800m. He then bagged silver in the 10,000m.
“I’ve been involved in track and field since 1982, and I continued since then until now,” he said.
Not only did Rodriguez showcase his talent in the region, but he also had the opportunity to compete against the best in the world in the 2005 Sydney Olympics.
“That was a very good experience,” he said. “I was kind of relaxing for a while after Sydney 2000 and rested up for a while on the training, but I continued coaching.”
In 2002, Rodriguez was again in the spot light when the Micronesian Games were held in Pohnpei, and with his hometown crowd cheering him on, the veteran athlete lit the Olympic torch, signifying the start of the Games.
Despite Elias not competing in the MAC, the Rodriguez family will still be well represented as his son, Anderson, is also on island and expected to compete in the 400m and 800m events.
Elias Rodriguez also recognized the change of scenery on the island, citing the Oleai Sports Complex track and field facility as his favorite change.
“There’s a big change here,” he said. “It wasn’t like this when I was here last time. There was a grass field for a track…this track now is fantastic. I really like it.”
He also explained the significance of taking part in regional events as it builds friendships with athletes from other delegations.
“I really feel great when I saw my friends from the 1990 and 1994 Micronesian Games,” he said. “I met a lot of them and it feels great.”