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The well-oiled Tongan from Rio is in PyeongChang and still well-oiled

By: Cindy Boren, The Washington Post
February 9, 2018 Updated: February 9, 2018 at 9:34 am
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photo - Pita Taufatofua carries the flag. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)
Pita Taufatofua carries the flag. (Vadim Ghirda/AP) 

Remember Pita Taufatofua from the Summer Olympics in Rio?

Of course you do. The shirtless Tongan athlete with the nicely oiled torso and native garb crushed the Internet when he carried his country’s flag during the Opening Ceremonies. Well, he’s back — in the Winter Olympics in South Korea — and he did not disappoint. Temperatures may have been in the high 20s, but Taufatofua was again in native garb, which meant he was shirtless and oiled again.

A taekwondo athlete in Rio, he qualified for the trip to South Korea in cross-country skiing.

“After the Summer Games, I said, ‘You know what? I want a new challenge. I want to find something that’s the hardest possible sport I can think of and see if it’s possible to get Tonga qualified within a year,’ ” Taufatofua told People.

So he learned how to ski and made winners of Olympic Opening Ceremonies viewers.

“Most of my training was on roller skis [short skis on wheels], which don’t have brakes,” he says. “There were so many wipeouts — cuts, scrapes and bruises. Probably every week I’d lose half an elbow or graze my knee or land on my face.”

But he’s in South Korea, only a little more covered up this time.

Taufatofua isn’t just a two-time Olympian. According to his personal website, the Australian-born 34-year-old spent “his whole adult life working in homeless shelters with the underprivileged to show and teach people the power of self belief.”

Since his Rio moment, he has turned down movie offers. He’s probably going to get more of those.

Read this story at The Washington Post.

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