Angel gives CNMI two more golds

Apelo wins 3 silvers in 89-kg class
Posted on Jun 23 2022


The CNMI’s Angel San Nicolas poses with his four gold medals while holding a giant cutout of his head eating an ice cream sandwich after the end of the 102-kg class of the weightlifting competition of the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 yesterday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium. (MARK RABAGO)

Angel San Nicolas can’t stop shaking his head as he’s about to receive his clean & jerk and total weight gold medals in the 102-kg class of the weightlifting event of the Northern Marianas Pacific Games 2022 yesterday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.

The special education teacher at Francisco Mendiola Sablan Middle School said he really wasn’t expecting to win a gold medal—much less two—and that’s the reason he couldn’t believe his good fortune.

“Honestly, I came to the competition expecting just to do well. That’s it. I was really nervous and for the most part the last three days has been really hard. Not just pressure but expectation. Most of my competitions took place outside of [the CNMI] and I prefer it that way. This is actually my first time performing to my best in front of my home. It’s not a preference to be honest as I prefer to compete overseas. There’s just less pressure competing off-island that’s why.”

The CNMI’s Leo Apelo in action in the 89-kg class of the weightlifting competition of the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 yesterday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium. (MARK RABAGO)

Whatever jitters the 29-year-old had disappeared come game time as he missed the gold in the snatch by only 1 kg after lifting 119 kg in his second attempt. He, however, more than made up for it with a lift of 160 kg in his third and final try in the clean & jerk. Moments before, he actually already secured the clean & jerk and total weight gold when he lifted 155 kg in his second try.

“I already secured the gold medal in my second attempt in total and clean & jerk. That’s actually my personal best and I’ve done that in training multiple times. I could’ve opted not to take the third attempt, but why not?”

An emotional San Nicolas dedicated his two gold medals—three if you count the one from the 2022 Oceania Weightlifting Championships—and the silver medal to everyone including his critics.

“I want to dedicate these medals to everyone who supported me and those who also gave me a hard time. I’m not going to lie ever since for more than year I really had a hard time and it’s not really the physical part it was dealing with people and so much stress and living up to everyone’s expectations. I’m sorry…I just wanna say to anyone I gave a hard time to, I’m sorry. I had to do what I had to do and it’s important for me to be doubted.”

On the $12,500 windfall he’s expected to get for his two gold medals and a silver, San Nicolas said he wants to get hold of the cash incentive first.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do but let’s get it first. Let me get it first and I’ll think and decide what I’ll do with it,” he said.

On the $1,000 bonus Gov. Ralph DLG Torres promised for each gold medal, San Nicolas said he would accept that too and even intimated that he’s ready to smoke the peace pipe with the governor. “If he wants to why not.”

Earlier, Leo Apelo gave the CNMI three more silver medals after coming in second in the 89-kg class. The 33-year-old Transportation Security Administration officer came in second in the snatch with a lift of 124 kg and finished in the same position in the clean & jerk when he cleared 157 kg.

“I’m proud of it and I really worked hard for it so it’s really good… Feels great, I can’t complain, and I love the crowd they gave me some energy.”

Apelo dedicated his three silver medals—including a fourth in the Oceania Weightlifting Championships—to his family and children, who were actually in attendance at the MHS Gym.
He said he’s been into the sport for 10 years now and plans to continue training in weightlifting “until my body’s broken.”

“These are the most medals I won and in an international competition at that. I only competed before locally, Guam, and in the Micronesian Games,” added Apelo who trains six days a week.

On the $7,500 incentive not counting the governor’s $1,000 bonus, Apelo joked that it’ll come in handy with everyone’s electricity bill going up. “The power bill is very high right now so…”

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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