Supported by the home crowd, Team NMI exceeded expectations as the host won 16 gold medals, 13 silvers, and nine bronzes in the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games.
“It’s unreal,” said Team NMI chef de mission Bob Coldeen after watching the islands accumulate more gold and total medals than all the Pacific and Mini Games (combined) it previously participated in.
Weightlifting handed Team NMI 11 gold medals, with Ray Santos and David Barnhouse getting three apiece, Angel San Nicolas and Jason Limes gaining two each, and Joey Colisao adding one.
Tennis provided the home team three gold medals, with Colin Sinclair prevailing in the men’s singles and teaming up with Robbie Schorr in the men’s doubles finals win. Sinclair, Schorr, Bobby Cruz, and Colin Ramsey also topped the men’s team event.
Golf’s Zhimin Jin also made it to the gold medalists list for Team NMI with her victory in the women’s individual event, while the NMI National Baseball Team capped the hosts’ gold rush in the Mini Games with a 12-9 finals triumph over rival Guam last Friday.
Weightlifting also gave Team NMI the most silvers with 10 (three each from Leo Apelo and Antonette Labausa, two from Colisao, and one apiece from Leowel Cristobal and Angel San Nicolas). Athletics added two, thanks to Orrin Pharmin and Denise Myers, while beach volleyball’s Logan Mister and Andrew Johnson chipped in one.
For the bronze medal tally, athletics’ Dennis Borja and the women’s 4x100m relay team (Casey Cruz, Zarinae Sapong, Maria Quitugua, Kina Rangamar) contributed one each. Golf’s Franco Santos, JJ Atalig, Joshua Atalig, and Zhi Yun Li, triathlon’s Isaiah Aleksenko, Leo Wania, Kathy Ruszala, and Heather Brook, tennis’ Sinclair and Isabel Heras, and the va’a women’s V12 team (Danica Calvo, Elaine Sablan, Elizabeth Tenorio, Erryne Dasalla, Gerlyn Libunao, Heather Calderwood, Jenisha Dubrall, Kaya Rasa, Rica Concepcion, Teresa Sablan, Victoria Aldan, Vinalynn Oronigo), and weightlifting’s Riella Ann Ichiou and Jason Limes were the other bronze medalists.
Team NMI went on to win medals in all nine sports featured in the Mini Games, as badminton’s Janelle Pangilinan and Jenine Savellano prevailed in their bronze medal match in the women’s doubles against Tahiti’s Hortensia Manzanal and Waianuhea Teheura, 21-12, 21-9.
The Northern Marianas Sports Association shared Team NMI’s success in the Mini Games with all the individuals and groups that supported the athletes and officials. NMSA acknowledged Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for his unwavering support, the business community who stepped up to the plate, the volunteers from all sectors, Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee chair Marco Peter and CEO Ben Babauta and their staff, NMSA-member federations and their leadership, the athletes and officials’ families, and the rest of the community which for more than a week cheered for Team NMI, rain or shine.
“Seeing everyone come together and rally behind Team NMI gave our athletes and officials the courage and strength to go out there and deliver their best performance. Team NMI’s success in the Mini Games is the product of the overwhelming support we got from our community,” NMSA president Jerry Tan said.
Coldeen echoed Tan’s sentiments, as Team NMI did rise up to the challenge, beating all the odds to put on an outstanding performance in front of the home crowd.
“What we saw was a community ready to burst out. It’s like we were knocked down, got up, knocked down again, got up, knocked down, got up, but this time we are staying up,” the NMI Sports Hall of Famer said.
“Our athletes were inspired by the overflowing support from the business community and individuals. I believe that helps explain what propelled them to strive harder and achieve greater results than any other Games,” he added. (PR)