Rota welcomes triathlon hosting for 2022 Mini Games


From left, Triathlon Association of the CNMI president Manny Sitchon, Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta, Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig, Rota Municipal Council chair Jonavan Lizama, and TRAC secretary general Ricky Castro after their meeting last December following an ocular inspection of the triathlon site for this year’s Mini Games. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO )

Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig welcomes his island’s hosting and describes bringing the triathlon event of the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 to the southern-most part of the Commonwealth as historic and makes the quadrennial event truly a CNMI-wide activity.

“The Municipality of Rota and her people proudly welcome our fellow brothers and sisters from all over Oceania with over 2,000 athletes, coaches, officials, and their families. Our people are deeply humbled as the Municipality of Rota will have a role in this historic event carrying the mantel of legacy like many of our fellow Oceania participating countries before us,” he said.

Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee chair Marco Peter thanked Atalig for opening his island for the Mini Games that the CNMI will host for the very first time ever.

“The recent statement from Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig pledging Rota’s support and excitement to play a role in the Mini Games, has me beaming with pride. I am honored to call the NMI home. The hospitality and national pride of the NMI people are the tenets that embody the very spirit of the Mini Games. The Mini Games is the perfect opportunity for our NMI people to share our culture and open our homes to visiting countries and learn about their different cultures and customs, all while bonding over athleticism and competition,” he said.

The former lawmaker said with 73 days to go before the Mini Games, set from June 17-25, he’s counting on everyone in the CNMI to pitch in for a successful hosting of the 11th staging of the Games.

“As preparations are under way for the Mini Games, the NMI people have demonstrated that they are ‘One Marianas; pulling together to host a historical event and showcase the talent, hospitality, and beauty of the NMI,” he said.

“On behalf of the good people of Rota, we wish all of our participating athletes good luck and have fun,” added Atalig.

Meanwhile, CNMI National Triathlon Team manager Jay Diyco said Rota hosting the sport of triathlon is a great opportunity for everyone in the CNMI and not only on Saipan to get into the spirit of the Mini Games.

“The triathlon event on Rota is a good option to give other islands a feel of the Pacific Mini Games. I’ve not been to Rota but from what I heard people there are very friendly and hospitable so I think our athletes will be more inspired when Rota people cheer for them,” he said.

Diyco also shared that to familiarize the triathlon national team to the course on Rota, the Triathlon Association of the CNMI will be having a test event at the end of the month.

“We will just be conducting the test event this April 30 as part of the preparation for Pacific Mini Games and training of our athletes. The triathlon on Rota is not a competition, it is a test run and at the same time a course familiarization for our athletes,” he said.

Last month, TRAC named five men and five women to the CNMI National Triathlon Team for the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022.

The women’s team is made up of Kathy Ruszala, Heather Brook, Robin Spaeth, Kaithlyn Chavez, and Tania Tan, while the men’s team consists of Dylan Mister, Isaiah Aleksenko, Christian Villacrusis, Erico Castro, and Leo Wania. Mick Ferris has been picked to coach the team with Diyco serving as manager.

So far, a total of 53 athletes have signed up for the triathlon competition which will be held at the Marina Harbor on Rota.

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

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