Sapong, Tarkong named NMI flag bearers

Posted on Jun 16 2022


Athletics’ Zarinae Sapong, left, holds the CNMI flag alongside va’a’s Jason Tarkong after both were named Team NMI flag bearers for the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 opening ceremony. (LEIGH GASES)

Jason Tarkong of outrigger canoe and Zarinae Sapong of athletics will serve as Team NMI’s flag bearers during the Northern Marianas Pacific Games 2022’s opening ceremony set tomorrow at the Oleai Sports Complex. 

The 2021 Northern Marianas Sports Association male and female athletes of the year were bestowed the honor during the Team NMI Presentation held Tuesday night at the Taga Hall of World Resort Saipan.

Tarkong and Sapong were invited on stage and were seen beaming with pride as they hoisted up the CNMI flags that they will hold in the opening ceremony of the Mini Games.

Prior to revealing the flag bearers and presenting the NMI teams, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres gave a speech to the athletes and officials in attendance and asked them to give back to the next generation of athletes. 

“You have your coaches who have been in your sport for many years and have put their time and love for the sport to show you what experiences they have had. It’s your turn to give back to the community and to the next generation. So, with that said, I want to personally thank all of you. We represent the CNMI and let’s wave that flag all the way… I love you guys.”

After the festivities of the night ended, Tarkong, a Marshal Services Division officer, was asked how he felt after being chosen as one of the flag bearers.

“This is a great honor… I appreciate it. I was kind of surprised. Maybe it has something to do with that Athlete of the Year [award], I don’t know. I try to represent not only our islands, but… as a human being, just to be nice and to do good, think positive, and try to share the knowledge with the youth and I love working with the youth. Other than that, I like working with a team and coming up with great ideas about how we can always get better, so to hold the flag and represent the NMI, wow, it’s a great honor.”

Tarkong jokingly added “So I’m thankful to my peers, and to those who chose me for it. It was a surprise. We were kind of joking about it… I thought they would pick someone more handsome, somebody with more hair than me, but… it was me.” 

He was then asked how he felt about the NMI outrigger team going into the Mini Games and he said “Tahiti is No. 1… in Polynesia, and pretty much in the world. So, they have the best times…” He then added, “Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia, Polynesian teams seem to be the best… and we look forward to competing against the best in the world.” 

Sapong seconded Tarkong when she said it’s indeed a great honor to be chosen as Team NMI’s flag bearer for the Mini Games.

“It’s exciting. It’s really an honor to be able to bear the flag, especially when we’re competing here on our homeland. So, I’m excited to do that. Usually, it’s off-island and we don’t have as many supporters where we’re at. It’s really just the local community and then whoever’s watching us online, but at least here we’ll have our families… and everybody, so that’ll be exciting.”

She added that she feels ready for the Mini Games after the Oceania Athletics Championships last week. 

“It’s been three years since my last competition so it was really an eye-opener for my tune up. I got a look at what I was lacking in and hopefully I can get those fixed. I can do better here,” said the wireless inventory assistant at IT&E.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at

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