Team Nauru quits Games, but one athlete arrived and won 5 medals

MAKING THE GAMES: Nauru's Jonah Harris won five track and field medals at the 9th Micronesian Games in Yap. Photo courtesy of Joyce McClure/MGOC

YAP, 24 JULY 2018 (THE GUAM DAILY POST) – A few days before the 2018 Micronesian Games games in Yap was scheduled to begin, Nauru Olympic Committee President Marcus Stephen informed the Micronesian Games Organising Committee that the tiny, cash-strapped Pacific Island was pulling out of competition due to financial restraints.

“I wish to inform everyone that Team Nauru unfortunately will not be participating at the 2018 Micro Games,” Stephen wrote. “It is a big disappointment for us, as we had ordered all our uniforms and paid for them, but due to the travel costs … it is simply not feasible for us.”

But that didn’t stop Jonah Harris from boarding a plane in Europe and heading to Yap. “I was in Finland, just about to board my plane, when I got a message from my family saying that Nauru had pulled out from the Games.”

Harris may have been the Games’ only athlete from Nauru, but he was welcomed with open arms.

“I definitely felt a little bit sad,” Harris said. “The people of Yap have been great and it has felt like a homecoming.”

Once settled on Yap, Harris made his presence felt in a big way, winning five medals. His Games consisted of winning gold in the men’s 100-meter run in 11.07 seconds, the long jump at 6.33 meters, silver in the 200 in 22.22 seconds, the high jump at 1.85 meters, and bronze in the triple jump at 12.09 meters.

“I wasn’t expecting any of this,” Harris said. “I was supposed to pull out from these games … weeks ago. I was suffering from a hamstring strain. I was surprised to be in any races, let alone coming to the Micro Games.”

“The Games have been great,” said the 19-year-old.

The five-time Micro Games medalist made carrying the entire weight of a nation look easy.

“I definitely felt extra pressure because … I’m the only one,” Harris said. “I got that pressure and put it out on the field and it helped me perform. Hopefully, I did what everyone expected of me.”

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