With the resurfacing of the Oleai track and field expected to render the facility off-limits until May, Northern Marianas Athletics had to scramble for alternative venues to train members of the national athletics team pool for this year’s Pacific Mini Games.
National athletics coach Dr. Ron Snyder said the timing of the resurfacing of the CNMI’s only track facility was unfortunate.
“This puts added strain in developing our team but NMA is ‘Rising to the Challenge!’ We have dedicated and enthusiastic athletes and coaches and are making the best of this challenging situation,” he said.
The middle-distance Level 2 coach and Level 1 assistant lecturer for athletics said currently his wards are training in different makeshift venues to prepare for the Mini Games, which the CNMI will be hosting for the first time ever from June 17 to 25 this year.
“Right now the middle and long distance runners meet at the airport and use the field and the road. The sprinters are practicing at the beach and the throwers work out in the weight room and at the field. We are still trying to figure out how to best prepare the hurdlers, the jumpers, the steeplechase athletes, and the throwers.”
Snyder said, in all, 17 athletes are training in the national track and field pool for the Mini Games.
Run Saipan president Edward Dela Cruz Jr., who is also part of the training pool, said members of his club have also been hamstrung by the closure of the track.
“A great deal of the members miss the track. The track and field is a great place to train but the resurfacing is for the better. I am so happy and grateful to our government that it is finally getting the attention it deserves. One thing I expect to see is that someone from [the Northern Marianas Sports Association] is going to start helping enforce the track rules because from my observation since post COVID-19 people disregard it with impunity.”
Dela Cruz said the community should be cognizant of the rules and regulations when using the track and field at the Oleai Sports Complex.
“They don’t listen to us and we need to enforce rules in order to preserve it for as long as we can. As the sole track on the island, it is meant for training and competitions and not just for leisure. The public should respect that. We need more support in preserving it otherwise it will need resurfacing again shortly,” he said.
NMA president Ramon “Ray” Tebuteb earlier said while other track and field events have found alternative venues of paramount concern are the middle distance events like the 400m.
“When you have to train for middle distance you have to have the track itself. The others like the throws and the jumps are fairly flexible, but if you look at the middle distance that’s a challenge because the progression the athletes go through you need that actual measurement of distance,” he said.
“In the sprint for example we can be fairly flexible in that because you can run a straight line and not one where you require one, two, or three laps that the 1,500m, 3×3 ¼ laps need,” he added.
Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta said they’re helping NMA to have access to alternative training sites to best prepare their athletes for the Mini Games.
“We’re facilitating alternate training sites. For example, over at the airport field Sports Committee director Ray Tebuteb worked on it and seccured the area there for athletics. We’ve also invested in indoor equipment like treadmills and conditioning equipment for the athletics national team,” he said.