PITA TAUFATOFUA was the oiled-up icon of the Rio Olympics – and now the topless Tongan will ship a good larger shock on the Winter Video games in North Korea.
The taekwondo exponent, 34, sprung to social media fame in 2016 as his nation’s bare-chested flag-bearer, his smile beaming and his physique glistening with coconut oil.
Now, regardless of by no means having owned skis and seeing snow solely as soon as earlier than final 12 months, he’ll compete for balmy Pacific island Tonga in Pyeongchang at cross-country snowboarding.
Taufatofua is already a very powerful member of the Tongan snowboarding group.
Arguably, although, the primary motive for that is that he’s the Tongan snowboarding group.
He advised the BBC: “After Rio I made a decision to search out the toughest sport potential as a result of I wanted a brand new problem.
“You have to put your physique by way of one thing actually difficult and the aim was to do it in a single 12 months – and we did it in a single 12 months!”
However his try at qualification got here right down to the ultimate potential occasion.
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He defined: “I assumed there’s one race left, it is the tip of the world, within the arctic circle. I assumed, ‘I’ve to present it my all – it is grave or glory’ and I gave it completely all the pieces.
“We sacrificed all the pieces to be right here – financially, I’m within the worst place ever however I’m the happiest ever.
“I used to be so completely satisfied, each race as much as this second I felt fairly dangerous, however this race, one thing felt actually good.”
Taufatofua received a legion of followers for his shirtless parading in Rio.
However he admits it will likely be very totally different for him in Pyeongchang – in circumstances that might scarcely be extra totally different from Tonga.
He advised the Wall Road Journal of his views on snow: “I nonetheless have a look at it and suppose: What the…”
“It’s stunning, and I really like this surroundings. Nevertheless it’s chilly. It’s very chilly.”
And, with Tonga barely having a winter, not to mention winter sports activities, he mentioned of his Pyeongchang dream: “In my head, I all the time thought I’d make it. And I had no thought how.”