CNMI wins bronze in aquathlon

Posted on Jun 23 2022


CNMI National Triathlon Team members Isaiah Aleksenko, Leo Wania, Kathy Ruszala, and Heather Brook pose with teams from New Caledonia and Tahiti on the medal podium of the aquathlon event of the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 yesterday on Rota.(CONTRIUTED PHOTO)

The CNMI won the bronze medal in aquathlon, one of three triathlon events hosted on Rota for the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022.

The winning team—made up of Isaiah Aleksenko, Leo Wania, Kathy Ruszala, and Heather Brook—yesterday finished third after gold medalist New Caledonia and silver medalist Tahiti.

Aleksenko was the swiftest of the four after completing the 2.5-km run, 1,000m swim, and 2.5-km run in 34.15, good for fourth overall among the men. Leo Wania crossed the finish line in 48:46.

Brook came in fifth among the women with a time of 43.01, while Ruszala accomplished the feat in 53.40.

CNMI National Triathlon Team manager Jay Diyco applauded his team’s bronze medal-winning finish.

“Congratulations and I’m very proud of the team,” he said.

Aleksenko was feeling grateful and thankful after completing the aquathlon.

“I think that was amazing. I hope we can get gold next time and I dedicate the medal to our whole team. I also want to dedicate my medal to my mom because she is the one who pushed me to work harder and she is the whole reason I’m able to do this,” he said.

Wania, meanwhile, was lost for words after winning the bronze in the aquathlon. His first Pacific Games was when he was just 18 years old when he took part in the 1,500m race in athletics.

“To my entire family, thank you all, love all my teammates in NMI triathlon,” he said.

For Brook, the aquathlon was a very rewarding experience.

“It’s been an incredible experience. So much learning in long the journey”

She also dedicated her bronze medal to her 16-month-old daughter, Addie. “She had to tag along with me on a lot of my workouts.”

Ruszala thanked her family and the Triathlon Association of the CNMI for whipping them to shape to compete in the triathlon events of the Mini Games.

“It’s not a one man show so I’ll name them all! To my teammates, for all the hours of training together in good and not so good days. Brad, Keoni, and Leilani, for being so supportive and flexible. To coach Mick [Ferris], Jay [Diyco], Florence [Antonio], and the rest of the TRAC committee for all the behind the scenes effort. To the CNMI for the wonderful opportunity!”

Tahiti’s Benjamin Zorgnotti made it back-to-back by winning anew the gold in the men’s aquathlon with a time of 31.46. New Caledonia’s Mathieu Szalamacha was runner-up in 33.18 with countryman Patrick Varney rounding out the Top 3 after crossing the finish line in 33.29.

Guam’s Minami Iijima added a second gold medal to the triathlon event she won last Monday by topping the women’s aquathlon in a time if 34.21. New Caledonia’s Charlotte Robin came in second in 35.53 followed by compatriot Nathalie Viratelle in 37.34.

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

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