Months of hard work, preparation, and training will all come down to two days of action as the 2nd Micronesian Athletics Championships kicks off today at the Oleai Sports Complex track and field facility.
All delegations were scheduled to arrive yesterday, with the bulk of the Palauan delegation touching down at the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport shortly after 8:30am and greeted by fellow sprinter Ngerak Florencio, as well as officials of the Northern Marianas Athletics.
The Guam delegation and Oceania Council were both expected to arrive at 5:30pm while athletes and officials from the Marshalls, Kiribati, Nauru, and the bulk of the Federated States of Micronesia team were to arrive at 8:30pm last night. FSM multi-event athlete Keitani Graham and distance runner Tedwin Ichiro also arrived Monday night.
All athletes will reside at the Aquarius Beach Tower Hotel as arrangements were confirmed by the NMA.
Meanwhile, the lighting system that will enable athletes to compete in the first-ever athletics event at night in Saipan was completed as Commonwealth Utilities Corp. crew members worked relentlessly on installing the telephone poles, lines, and lights.
The first three events will begin at 5pm with the opening ceremony scheduled to get underway at 6pm.
IAAF lecturer Dieter Massin also completed his two-day seminar on Kids Athletics yesterday, as students from various elementary schools joined the official and training instructors at the track facility.
Massin, who had earlier stressed the importance of being flexible and creative when setting up training activities for children to prevent them from losing interest in athletics, received positive recognition from the young participants, who were thrilled with the session.
“I like it because we have fun,” said Roxanne Duenas, who was just one of the many who were satisfied with the experience. “The games are really fun.”
Kids Athletics focuses on four segments—sprints, throws, jumps, and endurance—and features events such as the obstacle course formula one, target throw, soft javelin, pole flying, rotation throwing, and cross hopping, among others.
“Make it possible for a lot of kids at the same time in the same place to take part…anybody can take part,” Massin said. “You have to make it attractive and motivating and easy and simple to explain and understand. The children need new challenges and it’s always good to look for new things.”
CNMI delegation ready for action
The CNMI delegation is ready to perform in front of their home crowd.
“All I can say is we’re ready and we’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. We have a strong team, some have competed in regional and international events and for some, this is their first regional event, so it will be a good experience. It should be fun especially because they’re going to be performing in front of their friends, families, and the supporters.
Members of the CNMI delegation include Tony Ichiou, Nate Mateo, Darrel Roligat, Jacque Wonenberg, Dexter Dillay, Tyrone Omar, Noriko Jim, Bo Wang, Champ Untalan, Dolores Rangamar, Nick Gross, Sidro Tebuteb, Ronald Olopai, Jack Kabiriel, Carter Calma, Marcan Chang Wang Jang, Mark Lero, Reggie Ayuyu, Rachel Rangamar, Lia Rangamar, Arcy Moncrief, Dena Ngirchongor, Lyza Mendiola, Reylynn Sapong, and Steve Atalig
Head coach is Bobby Winkfield.
Palau sets eyes on building friendships
In hopes of promoting friendship among delegations from the region, Palau coach Sngebard Delong explained that the delegation looks to build positive relationships with other athletes and officials.
“We’re looking to get a lot of friendship and if we’re lucky to get a gold, it’s a bonus,” he said. “Some of my athletes have been through long training and about five of them are new and they just started about three months ago, so we look forward to see them compete.”
Delong, a former athlete who is known by many in the sport, also explained that the MAC also serves as a venue to gain experience before next year’s Micronesian Games, which will also be held on Saipan.
“This is leading up to the Micro Games next year, and I really want to see them all competing next year even though they’re young, but by them maybe they’ll have enough experience to compete,” he said, adding that he continues to recruit more athletes for the future of Palau athletics. “I’m still looking for more athletes…both boys and girls and my target is on young kids instead of older guys.”
He added that two of his seasoned athletes failed to make the trip due to injury.