Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, Revisited

Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, Revisited

Article by Bob Snow

On Thursday 22nd June, we will see the beginning of four days of Athletics’ competition at the Oleai Stadium on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. This is the scene of the highly successful Pacific Mini Games which were held here in August 2022 and an equally successful Oceania Athletics Championships in 2008. It is good for Oceania Athletics to be once more north of the Equator in Micronesia.

The main competition will be for the Oceania Cup, in which teams from Micronesia, Polynesia, Melanesia, Australia and the Northern Mariana Islands, will battle it out for supremacy in two days of competition over a full range of events – sprints, hurdles, middle and long distance, jumps, throws and relays.

The Oceania Cup will be conducted alongside the Oceania Athletics Masters Championships, The Masters Championships will include all events and a first for the Micronesian Area, they will host the Throws Pentathlon which encompasses the Shot Put, Discus, Hammer, Javelin and the Weight. The programme for the Masters’ events continues until the close of proceedings on Sunday 25th June.

On Friday 23rd June the Oceania Cup will start with the Men’s Shot Put and will continue to the end of Saturday 24thJune with the Mixed 4 x 400m Relay.

Athletes from Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Kiribati will represent Micronesia. The Polynesian Team comprises athletes from French Polynesia, Samoa, Tonga, American Samoa, Tuvalu, Cook Islands and Hawaii. In the Melanesian Team we find athletes from Fiji, Vanuatu, Norfolk Island and Papua New Guinea. The host nation, Northern Mariana Islands has a large team of 28 athletes, giving them a good workout to help the local selectors decide on a team for the Honiara Pacific Games in November & December. Australia has a team of 16 athletes.

The full programme can be seen on the Oceania Athletics website.

After a week on the Gold Coast, several athletes from the Throws Camp have headed to Saipan to conclude their training and to compete in the Oceania as part of their regional teams.  The Throws Camp was proudly supported by Olympic Sports Federations of Oceania (OSFO) in partnership with Olympic Solidarity and World Athletics.  The throws camp was an opportunity for coaches to progress their coaching qualifications as well as having the opportunity to train next to their athletes.  Albert Miller (FIJ), Brett Green (PNG Coach) and Dame Valerie Adams (NZL) shared their coaching experiences with the next generation of coaches and athletes.

For those who have come from the Southern Hemisphere, the temperatures in Saipan are typically tropical with daytime readings of in excess of 30 degree Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). In some parts of Australia now the temperatures at night are below freezing, and the Australian ski fields are operating in full swing.

In Saipan now they are in the early part of the hurricane season, which reaches its peak in August and September, but we have been fortunate in having been given the all-clear and look like being well away from any damaging hurricanes / cyclones / typhoons. Many who travelled to Saipan via Seoul and Tokyo, did however, experience a lot of air turbulence on the way as they flew over the East China and the Philippines Seas. There is always the chance of some special Mother Nature event greeting us before our departure, but it does not seem likely. The short-term Saipan weather forecast is for scattered thunderstorms on many of the days. Good to have packed an umbrella.