Majority of the members of Team CNMI left Saipan yesterday for the XVI Pacific Games that will kick off in Apia, Samoa this Sunday.
Athletes and officials of tennis, va’a, swimming, golf, and beach volleyball boarded their respective long flights to Samoa where they will be met by chef de mission Paul Plunkett and Northern Marianas Sports Association president Michael White.
The tennis team had head coach Jeff Race, assistant coach Lydia Tan, and players Ken Song, Malika Miyawaki, Isabel Heras, and Tania Tan leaving Saipan for Incheon yesterday morning. From the South Korean city, the group will head to Hong Kong and then have a stop to Fiji to meet the two other members of the team, Carol Lee and Robbie Schorr, who are in Lautoka attending the International Tennis Federation Training Center. From Fiji, the tennis delegates are expected to reach Samoa Sunday morning and join Colin Sinclair, who is coming to Apia all the way from the Netherlands.
The tennis tournament will be played starting July 8 until July 19 at the Apia Park Tennis Courts with 17 countries competing in the men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, and team events.
Beside tennis, Tania Tan will also join the medal-rich athletics competition, which will be held in the second week of the Pacific Games or from July 15 to 20.
“I feel honored to have been chosen to compete in both athletics and tennis. I know it’s going to be tough but I’ve been training so I have confidence that I’ll be fine, managing two sports,” said Tan.
The reigning NMSA/Tan Siu Lin Foundation Female Student Athlete of the Year will race in the 5,000m run and half marathon for Team CNMI.
Meanwhile, another event that has a lot of medals at stake, swimming, will also kick off this Monday with the Commonwealth’s six swimmers expected to join the 5-kilometer ocean swim at the Mulifanua Sheraton Beach Resort.
For the pool events, Aika Watanabe, Juhn Tenorio, David Boyer, Lennosuke Suzuki, Sophia Gauran, and Jinju Thompson will be racing in the newly renovated Samoa Aquatic Centre, beginning on July 9. Preliminary/qualifying heats will take place in the morning, while the medal races will be held in the evening.
Fifteen countries will be competing in the swimming tournament, which is also a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Forty-one events are scheduled in the swimming event, including five relays.
For the va’a, the CNMI will only compete in V-1 races for men’s and women’s divisions. Mayiah Duenas, Kalea Andrew, Jack Aahn, Steven Goodwin will be racing in the preliminary heats for the 500m on July 9 in the waters off Mulifanua Sheraton Beach Resort.
Duenas and Andrew will be on Heat 3 and will race against Papua New Guinea, Guam, Palau, and host Samoa. In the men’s, Goodwin and Aahn are also on Heat 3 and will compete against Guam, Tokelau, and Tahiti.