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The oiled-up Tongan hottie from the Rio Olympics is now a cross-country skier

The athlete broke the internet in 2016 as the oiled-up, topless flagbearer for Tonga at the Rio Olympics

The oiled-up Tongan hottie from the Rio Olympics is now a cross-country skier
Pita Taufatofua at the Rio Olympics in 2016 (L) and in Pyoncheang after he qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics. | Photo: Rio 2016 & The Olympic Channel

Pita Taufatofua the oiled-up flag bearer for Tonga at the Rio Olympics has qualified for this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.

Taufatofua shot to fame in 2016 when he entered the Maracanã Stadium for the Parade of Nations. He was wearing just a necklace and traditional ta’ovala, a Tongan mat.

The 34-year-old represented the tiny South Pacific nation in taekwando, but was eliminated in his first bout.

Later that year Taufatofua announced his plans to train as cross-country skier. This was though he had only seen snow for the first time months before his announcement.

Pita Taufatofua has qualified as cross-country skier in the 2018 Winter Olympics. | Photo: Instagram @pita_tofua

‘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,’ he told the Olympic Channel.

So Taufatofua trained hard for the next 12 months and barely scrapped through the qualification.

In fact, he was not up to the required Olympic standard until the final qualification day in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Olympics all-rounder athlete

Taufatofua began studying Taekwondo when he was just five years. He had trained to become a Summer Olympian for 20 years, but the journey to the Winter Olympics was much shorter.

‘The goal was to do it in one year. And we did it in one year,’ he said.

‘Twenty years I sacrificed to become a summer Olympian, and one year to become a winter Olympian.’

Tonga is a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean and Taufatofua is only the second person from the country to qualify for the Winter Olympics.

‘This is big for Tonga … It’s about all of us,’ he said.

‘This is only special if it inspires somebody else to become something bigger than themselves.’

When he’s not training six hours a day to be an Olympian, the Australian based Taufatofua trains homeless children to develop life skills.

He also has an engineering degree and is working towards completing a Master’s degree.

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