Two years ago Pita Taufatofua caught the world’s attention during the Olympic opening ceremony in Rio. Oiled and glistening, the athlete from Tonga carried his nation’s flag with pride.
This year Pita has returned to the Parade of Nations sporting the same ensemble from 2016. But this time around, the athlete and model who resides in Australia most of the year is the only individual representing Tonga in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 9, 2018
Pita will be competing in the cross-country skiing category this time around. That alone is impressive, especially considering the fact that it never snows in Tonga. But it also marks another important milestone for the small South Pacific nation, since Pita is the first athlete to represent Tonga in any Winter Olympic Games.
This fella from Tonga didn't get the memo though. pic.twitter.com/jThbFdrieS
— ByTheMinute ⏱ (@itsByTheMinute) February 9, 2018
When Pita learned that he had qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics he shared his excitement during a Facebook live interview from the Arctic.
“This was the last day of the qualification process, this was my last race possible and we did it. We have done it. I had seven races and they all failed. I did my best but I fell short each time and I thought there’s one race left, it’s at the end of the world.”
— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) February 9, 2018
We wish Pita and all the athletes competing this year good luck.