'Oily Tongan' flagbearer Pita Nikolas Taufatofua qualifies for Winter Olympics

Pita Taufatofua earned worldwide fame when he carried the Tongan flag at the Rio Olympics.
Pita Taufatofua earned worldwide fame when he carried the Tongan flag at the Rio Olympics. Photo credit: Reuters

Pita Nikolas Taufatofua, the guy known for carrying Tonga's flag at the Rio Olympics while shirtless and dripping in oil, has now qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Taufatofua will become Tonga's first-ever skier to qualify for the Winter Olympics when he competes in the cross-country skiing event in South Korea.

The 34-year-old competed in taekwondo in Rio, where he lost his first match. Following that he decided he was giving cross-country skiing a shot, with the hope of qualifying for the Pyeongchang games. He had never been on skis before.

Pita Taufatofua.
Pita Taufatofua. Photo credit: Reuters

It all came down to his last cross-country race and the last chance of qualification in Iceland.

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

"I was so happy, every race up to this moment I felt pretty bad, but this race, something felt really good," he said after the race.

"We sacrificed everything to be here. I had to lose 15kgs, I have had 10 weeks on snow and we have had to use roller skis."

The Winter Olympics will be contested between February 9 and February 25.

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