Viral Olympic Star From Tonga Will Participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics

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Everyone’s favorite flag bearer from Tonga will be making an appearance at the Winter Olympics.

Pita Taufatofua, who became a viral sensation when he carried his country’s flag wearing a lot of body oil during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics in 2016, will also be representing Tonga at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. His sport of choice? Cross-country skiing.

In Rio, Pita competed in Tae Kwon Do, but lost to Iran’s Sajjad Mardani in his first match. After his loss, his began training in a new sport that would give him a shot at the gold at the 2018 Games.

“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,” Pita told the Olympic Channel, Time reports. “You know, look at the conditions, it’s, like, freezing, it’s negative a million degrees, and then you’ve got to put your body through something really challenging.”

Pita will be the second Tongan athlete ever to compete at a Winter Olympics. The island nation is located in Oceania, and as The Guardian points out, snow is completely unknown in its tropical climate. Pita reportedly trained on roller skis and set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for his journey. He attempted seven qualifying races before making the cut on the last day of Olympic trials in Antartica.

“We sacrificed everything to be here,” he told the Olympic Channel after finding out he’d made the cut. “Financially, I’m in the worst position ever, but I’m the happiest ever. People don’t see the hard work that goes behind, they just see the shiny guy that walks with the flag.”

While Pita will likely be the one carrying his nation’s flag at this year’s opening ceremonies on February 9, he will — to the Internet’s sadness — probably be doing so with a parka on.

Related: 2018 Winter Olympics: U.S. Figure Skating Teams Chosen





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