To run concurrent with Mini Games
The Oceania Senior Weightlifting Championships will be held on Saipan next year and will run at the same time as the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games.
CNMI Weightlifting president John Davis confirmed that the 2021 Oceania Senior Weightlifting Championships is now scheduled to take place concurrently with the Pacific Mini Games. He said the Pacific Games Council approved Oceania Weightlifting Federation’s request to hold their regional championships simultaneously with the Mini Games last July 2.
“We expect elite world-class and Olympic athletes from Australia, Samoa, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Nauru to name a few. The senior contests are open to athletes 15 years and older in 10 weight categories each for males and women. This certainly will raise the CNMI’s profile in the regional and international sports community,” he said in an email to Saipan Tribune.
Pacific Games Council CEO Andrew Minogue said having the Oceania Championships coincide with the Mini Games next year will be the third time both events will be held at the same time.
“Australia and New Zealand have been invited to all Pacific Games weightlifting events since Port Moresby 2015 (including Vanuatu 2017 Mini Games and Samoa 2019 Pacific Games), the Oceania Weightlifting Federation applied to PGC to have the event recognized as their Oceania Championships. That way, OWF does not need to organize a separate event at a different time and place, and we maximize the participants at the Pacific Games which adds to the prestige of the Games. There are no extra costs or competition days required,” he said.
The two-in-one format for the sport was welcome news not only for Davis and Minogue but also for Pacific Mini Games 2022 Organizing Committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta.
“Weightlifting will be very big as it’ll be a two-event format event. We will have the Pacific Mini Games weightlifting competition along with the Oceania Championships,” he said in an interview with Saipan Tribune.
Babauta said two events will translate to more competitors and since it’s the 2022 Oceania Senior Weightlifting Championships, the CNMI should expect top-of-the-line weightlifters from the region, with some of the athletes fresh from this year’s stint in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“So we’re doing two events at the same time. Oceania will definitely be sending a big contingent. We will have a little more than 200 participants in the weightlifting competition. It will be held simultaneously. The key there is we’re going to have more world-class athletes in town for this reason,” he said.
CNMI National Weightlifting coach David Barnhouse is also excited about the development and looks forward to playing host and competing in both the 2022 Oceania Senior Weightlifting Championships and the 2022 Mini Games.
“This is the biggest event we ever have and ever will host. Continental championships are just one step below the world championships and are gold-level events for Olympic qualification. What that means is any athlete in the region that is planning to go to the Olympics will be here,” he said.
Babauta earlier said that nearly 1,900 athletes and officials from 21 island nations have so far confirmed their participation in next year’s Mini Games the CNMI is hosting for the very first time.
With 218 athletes expected, weightlifting is the second most in terms of the number of delegates after va’a or outrigger canoe. The sport will be held at the Saipan World Resort.