The start of the Festival of Pacific Arts kicked off with a traditional welcoming ceremony of traditional canoes at Paseo on May 22. Jerick Sablan/PDN
Colonia, YAP — Shoeless and wearing a traditional thu’u, or loincloth, with a machete in one hand, a young Micronesian athlete quickly scales a three-story high coconut tree, its trunk as slender as he is. At the top, he pushes his way through the thick fronds, his body braced against the tree and his feet firmly planted on the trunk.
A hard whack of the machete and a coconut the size of a man’s head plummets to the ground below. Swiftly shimmying back down, he gives a sharp blow to the green coconut husk and splits it open. Out pops the inner seed, its brown shell covered in coir, or fibers. With another firm, fast wallop of his machete, the athlete splits the hard shell into pieces.
His partner, a woman, takes the pieces and shreds the white flesh on a grater between her knees until the shell is clean. The spectators roar their approval as the timekeeper marks his chart.
Coconut tree climbing, husking and grating is one leg of the Micronesia All-Around, the multi-sport event of the quadrennial international Micronesian Games. In addition to the coconut event, a combination run-swim-dive competition and spear-throwing contest round out the Oceania version of the decathlon.
‘No need to train’
“The Micro All-Around athletes never train,” said Liyon Sulog, CEO of the 2018 Micronesian Games. “When it comes time, we go into the villages and ask around to find out who the best climbers are. They climb the coconut trees all year long, so there’s no need to train.”
The games, set for July 15-27, 2018, on Yap, are expected to draw 1,600 athletes and coaches from the participating islands.
“With our population of only 7,000 people, it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re looking forward to welcoming them to our beautiful island home.”
Saipan hosted the first Micronesian Games in 1969; they were intended to be an annual event. However, they were put on hold until 1990 when they were again hosted by Saipan. Every four years since then, the games have been held in Guam, Pohnpei and Palau.
“The purpose of the MicroGames is to promote a unique, friendly, world-class sporting event and to develop sport for the benefit of the people, the nations and the territories of the Micronesian community,” said Francis Itimai, co-chair with Sulog of the 2018 Micronesian Games Organizing Committee. “When they were first held in 1969, the games were conceived as a way to help the rapidly developing Micronesian nations build character and pride while uniting the islands. The athletes use the event as a stepping stone to other regional and international sports competitions, including the International Olympics.”
“Visitors will come from around the world,” said Jim Tobin, secretary general of the FSM National Olympic Committee. “Ambassadors from Australia, the United States, China and Japan, plus heads of state from each participating country, will be in Yap to support the games and the athletes.”
Source: Google News : http://www.guampdn.com/story/sports/2017/10/31/micronesias-version-decathlon-highlight-games/816054001/