Tongan Olympic flag-bearer wants to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics

Pita Taufatofua is hoping to compete as a cross-country skier

BY Daniel Kelly 10:44 Tuesday 6 December 2016, 10:44 6 Dec 2016

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Pita Taufatofua was one of the stars of the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony.

The Tongan gained worldwide attention, as he led his team into the Maracana, as the Pacific island's flagbearer. Taufatofua's outfit gained him many fans around the world.

Taugatofua had to wait until the penultimate day of the Olympics to compete, where he lost in the Round of 16 to Iran's Sajjad Mardani in the Men's +80 kg Taekwondo competition.

Despite the brief appearance in Brazil, Taugatofua has already set his sights on becoming a Winter Olympian in Pyeongchang in 2018. Tongan luger Fuahea Semi competed at Sochi 2014, and is the only Tongan Winter Olympian.

Speaking to the Olympic ChannelTaufatofua revealed his wants to become the Tonga's first male cross-country skier.

"I’m going to be taking my Olympic dream one step further... My goal is to let people see, if I can do it, they can do it... The goal is to hunt down that Olympic medal at the 2018 Olympics."

The 33-year-old Australian-born athlete has joined the Tongan Olympic Committee's programme to try and foster a generation of Winter Olympians from the country.

Pyeongchang 2018 begins in just over 14 months time. If he was to qualify, it would be one of the underdog stories of the Games.

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