Tonga's oiled-up Olympic flagbearer qualifies for Winter Games

By Jack Davies 21 January 2018 256
Tonga's oiled-up Olympic flagbearer qualifies for Winter Games

Pita Taufatofua will need to wrap up a bit warmer if he is to make as big an impact at the 2018 Winter Olympics as he did in the 2016 Summer Games.

Former Taekwondo player Taufatofua achieved fleeting global fame two years ago when, as his country's flagbearer, he entered the stadium in traditional dress, his bear torso caked in coconut oil.

Pictures of Taufatofua were shared widely on social media, but he has since switched sports to cross-country skiing with the aim of reaching Olympic standard in a single year.

Taufatofua trained with roller skis due to the lack of snow in Tonga and failed in seven previous attempts to reach the qualifying requirements, succeeding only with his final attempt in Iceland on Saturday.

He will be Tonga's first skier at the Winter Olympics.

"After Rio I decided to find the hardest sport possible because I needed a new challenge and the hardest sport possible was cross-country skiing," Taufatofua told the Olympic Channel.

"You've got to put your body through something really challenging. The goal was to do it in one year - and we did it in one year!"

 

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