Northern Marianas Athletics will again hold an open track and field event on July 24 at the Oleai Sports Complex.
Like last month’s competition, the Track and Field Open Meet for July will have nine divisions—18-and-under, open, masters 35-39, masters 40-44, master 45-49, masters 50-54, masters 55-59, master 60-64, masters 65+, and masters 70+.
Events include the 200m, 800m, 4x100m, javelin, shotput, and discus. NMA said a 5K event is also on the table, but it will be at 5:45pm the day before on July 23.
NMA secretary general Robin Sapong said the federation holding regular track and field meets now will somehow compensate with the lack of competitions—local and regional—that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic the past year.
“With the cancellation and postponement of many regional championship events, we had to find a way to get our athletes back to competition. Summer is normally athletics season where we often travel outside the CNMI for competition,” he said.
Sapong, who is also president of the Oceania Athletics Association, said regular meets also help NMA’s grass roots development and hone up-and-coming athletes.
“We also use this kind of event for talent identification for our young athletes. We encourage them to try a variety of events to avoid event-specific [training] at an early age. To keep our events engaging and manageable to both participants and our supporters, we decided to have a short schedule of events but still add a variety of disciplines,” he said.
The NMA official said they also made it a point to promote master athletes by adding events for them in each specific age group category. He said participants of masters events also usually make up a majority of their volunteers for future meets.
Sapong went on to invite the islands’ track and field athletes to take part in the Track and Field Open Meet for July, adding that the CNMI is lucky that it’s already at Level Green in the Community Vulnerability Risk Level.
“We are blessed to be able to organize events for our athletes and community as some other areas still have restrictions in place with COVID-19 protocol. We also plan to have another [track and field meet] in August post Tokyo 2022,” he said.
For his part, NMA president Ramon Tebuteb said the organization holding its second track and field meet in two months is not out of the ordinary and was actually normal in the past.
“We have conducted these monthly meets on a regular basis in the past. The training regime of each athlete is flexible. Trust is established between our coaches and athletes [by holding these regular meets],” he said.