Tonga's viral flag bearer qualifies for his third straight Olympics, second Summer Games



Pita Taufatofua — the Tongan flag bearer who first went viral after the 2016 Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony for his the shirtless and thoroughly oiled-up entrance — will return to the Summer Olympics and compete in his third straight Olympic Games.

In the Oceana Olympic Qualifier tournament for taekwondo in Australia on Saturday, he won the 80kg+ category to secure a qualification spot for his country, and he said that if he won, he’d receive the spot, which a Tonga Olympic official confirmed to NBC Sports. And he did all this only a few weeks after suffering a rib injury.

Prior to qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, Taufatofua, who’s now 36 years old, posted an inspirational note on Instagram, writing:

Team Tonga is all weighed in and ready to fight. I landed awkward during sparring while trying to protect this fractured rib from getting worse, resulting in a twisted ankle. The good Lord definitely has a sense of humour in the way he likes to test us. Hasn’t been an easy run the last month, this is the nature of life… Strapping tape is holding me together but just so glad to be finally competing. Whatever you go through, there are no excuses- just reasons to keep pushing! As always, I will show up and leave it all in the ring. #GoingToNeedABeachAndIceColdCoconutAfterAllThis!

But Taufatofua isn’t done.

He’s still looking to qualify for the Tokyo Games in sprint kayak. If he does that, he’ll be the first athlete to compete in a different sport in three consecutive Olympics and the first athlete to compete in multiples disciplines at one Summer Games since 1992, according to NBC Sports.

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At the Rio Games, he competed in taekwondo and lost in the first round. And then for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, he qualified for cross-country skiing as the second Tongan Winter Olympian. He also entered the Opening Ceremony with his famous shirtless and oiled-up look.

He finished 114th out of 116 athletes in the 15-kilometer race.

But his results at the Games haven’t mattered to Olympics fans. People still love him and will now get another chance to cheer for him at the Tokyo Games this summer.

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Via OverwatchWire


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