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

Florence Fletcher
January 22, 2018

The Royal Tonga Ski Federation announced on Facebook that he finished with the points he needed to qualify for Pyeongchang.

Qualification points earned in roller-ski races can be applied for cross-country skiing and Taufatofua almost qualified on that basis alone.

Pita Taufatofua, who captured global attention as the oiled and topless Tongan flagbearer at the Rio Olympics, has gone "to the end of the world" to qualify as Tonga's first Winter Olympian. "This was the last day of the qualification process".

This will be the second Winter Olympics for Tonga since the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, where Bruno Banani represented Tonga in Luge.

Meet the athlete who enjoyed Brazil so much he taught himself a new sport to get back to the Olympics in double-quick time.

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The fighter decided to make the switch to cross-country skiing following his disappointing first-round exit in Brazil.

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.

"And I thought there is one race left and it's at the end of the world".

"We sacrificed everything to be here - financially, I am in the worst position ever but I am the happiest ever". "I thought, "I have to give it my all - it's grave or glory" and I gave it absolutely everything".

"People don't see the hard work that goes behind (it), they just see the shiny guy that walks with the flag".

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