A Successful Opening Ceremony
The official opening ceremony of the Pacific Mini Games 2022 was a huge success on Friday night with over 3000 spectators attending the opening ceremony at the Oleai Sports Complex in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Thousands more watched the livestream on the Pacific Mini Games You Tube channel.
The Organising Committee Chairman Marco Peter said: “When our honorable Gov. Ralph Torres gave us the green light [in November 2020] to proceed with the games, we were faced with a daunting task that needed to be done in a short amount of time…. It seemed like an impossible feat.”
He added, “with over 1,000 delegates present in the NMI for the games — 800 of them athletes…, 400 staff members and countless volunteers — with over 20 nations [and territories] participating, this once-in-a-lifetime event is a success.”
Peter said “for the first time in Pacific Mini Games history, we, the NMI as the host, are providing accommodations for the athletes and staff members participating in the games. NMI, we are making our mark in history. The Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee did not want to provide the bare minimum. We wanted to set the new bar for host nations to follow in providing a field of play, accommodations, transportation, and food. And I am proud to say we have done just that.”
Pacific Games Council President, Vidhya Lakhan, said “I must single out Governor Ralph Torres for he has been a tower of strength to our Games Organising Committee. Governor, allow me to say that if it had not been for your support, we probably would not be in the shape we are this evening. Please, accept our sincere thanks for your commitment to see these games through. And to the athletes of the Pacific, I say to you all, that the stage is set for what is promising to be an excellent games.”
However, Governor Torres did not want to take all the credit and acknowledged everyone who made an effort in putting a great PMG despite all the setbacks they had experienced, said: “To all the athletes who will be competing in the nine different sporting events, I commend you for your commitment to health and sport, as you’re training to get here required hard work and dedication. The NMI is honored to provide you all with opportunities to showcase your skills and abilities and to represent your islands and countries. We are proud of you all.”
Tennis court battles in American Memorial Park
The CNMI tennis team planned to dominate the tennis courts in this year’s Pacific Mini Games and as predicted, won its first gold medal after beating Vanuatu in the men’s double final.
Although losing to Clement Mainguy of Vanuatu in the men’s singles, Robert Schorr was out for redemption in the doubles, pairing with Colin Sinclair to try and topple Mainguy and Aymeric Mara in was a very hard fought battle.
CNMI scored 6 – 0 in the first set and 6 – 2 in the second set to secure the gold medal.
“Robbie and Collin are our workhorses, and they managed to pull off the gold in a clutch situation — the victory was definitely sweet,” said CNMI tennis coach Jeff Cruz.
Meanwhile Papua New Guinea pulled off a stunning win over Fiji in the in the women’s tennis competition, with Abigail Tere-Apisah shutting down Ruby Coffin of Fiji 6-0, 6-0.
In the other women’s singles match, the PNG’s Violet Apisah outplayed Fiji’s Saoirse Breen. Apisah gained control and won 6 – 2 , 6 – 1 to secure the victory.
In the battle for the bronze medal, Tonga edged out the CNMI, 2-1.
Over at the Dug-out
Guam baseball grabbed a huge win over Fiji, 13-3, during 2022 Pacific Mini Games action Saturday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Baseball Field in Saipan.
Up 2-0 in the second inning, Jathan Muña-Barnes hit a three-run triple to lift the young gunners to a 5-0 lead. With the Fiji pitcher unable to find the strike zone, Guam’s batters let him pitch to load up the count. A sacrifice from Shon Muña Jr. and a grounder from Jeremiah Sablan, and Guam continued to capitalise, pulling in three more runners to close the inning up 8-0.
On the defensive end, Guam had a few bobbles with the ball, but cleaned up quickly to keep Fiji scoreless through the next two innings. Team Guam continued to rotate pitchers and positions to give everyone some game experience.
With the mercy rule looming, Fiji showed signs of life in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, no outs and the score at 13-0, Fiji drove in two runs. Two outs later, a base hit slipped past second base for Fiji’s third run. However, with calls from the dugout urging pitcher Jayce Concepcion to: “get us out of here!” Guam delivered on the final out and earned its first win of Mini Games competition.
Feeling relieved about the win Guam team manager Joe Tuquero said, “The standout thing is that we won. “I had a feeling they will be nervous and they are… the younger players need to know that they can play ball and learn to be composed in front of intense crowds, whether it’s the home crowd or not.”
Cikamatana represents Australia
Eileen Cikamatana arrived on Saipan in time for Friday’s opening ceremony for the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022.
However, this time she is representing Australia and not her nation of birth, Fiji.
Cikamatana’s full potential has been widely recognised in Australia and her coaches will hope to capitalise on the opportunity.
Although the humble champion says, “There’s no expectations for me. My coach does all the calls and all I do is train and lift. So whatever he says goes. I don’t put expectations in my mind during competition because that just doesn’t work [for me]. If you put expectations on yourself and it doesn’t go then you’d only be upset with yourself…because in training you train for this and then in competition you just give your best and everything just happens”.
The Mini Games are expected to bring in more than 1,800 visitors from around the Pacific.