With the new dates for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games now confirmed, the Triathlon Association in the CNMI will turn its focus on the preparations for the quadrennial competition.
The Pacific Games Council in concurrence with the 22 members of the Pacific Games Association announced last week the approval of the new schedule for the Mini Games, based on the proposal of the CNMI as host country. Instead of next year, the regional event will now be held from June 17 to 25 in 2022, to give the host and other participating countries more time to get ready and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Triahtlon is one of the six sports initially proposed for the Mini Games and although it is on the event calendar, TRAC has yet to make any major headway in planning for the competition because of the uncertainties that the pandemic have created. The confirmation from PGC, however, gave TRAC and other local sports federation the signal to move ahead and buckle down to work.
“We could now start focusing on capacity building as a host and talent identification for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games,” TRAC secretary general Ricky Castro said.
To start with, TRAC has reached out to Oceania Triathlon Union for a virtual technical official course, which Triathlon Australia is facilitating. The International Triathlon Union-accredited group has started the Level 1 course last week and it will run until Nov. 15 with nearly 30 individuals from Saipan and Guam attending the event.
“Hopefully, after the technical official course, we will also have coaching course/training, which will be very crucial as we work on identifying and training athletes that will represent the CNMI to the Pacific Mini Games.
TRAC will also hold a series of pre-Mini Games events to train both technical officials and potential athletes, as well as raise funds for the competition. Late last year, TRAC president Florence Antonio went to Apia, Samoa to observe how the triathlon event was ran in the 2019 Pacific Games.
Incidentally, it was also in the Pacific Games—2015 in Papua New Guinea—that the CNMI had last sent representatives in the PGC-sanctioned competition. Peter Prestley, Brad Ruszala, and Tony Stearns joined the men’s race with the former emerging as the fastest finisher for the Commonwealth. New Caledonia’s Audric Lucini and Mathieu Szalamacha took the gold and bronze medals, respectively, while Tahiti’s Benjamin Zorgnotti got the silver.
In the Pacific Mini Games, triathlon was not included in the calendar of events for the 2013 (Walis & Futuna) and 2017 (Vanuatu) editions, so the sport is making a comeback in the CNMI-hosted event. The last time a Mini Games had triathlon in its program was in 2009 in the Cook Islands with New Caledonia’s Davis Esposito and Erika Ellis winning the men’s and women’s gold medals.
The last time the CNMI earned a medal in the triathlon event either in the Mini Games or the Pacific Games was in 2003 with Stephan Samoyloff, Dirk Sharer, and Anneka Sakovich taking the bronze medal in the team event in Fiji (when the event was still known as South Pacific Games).