Pita Taufatofua

Pita Taufatofua honoured to represent Tonga in 3 Olympic sports

The 37-year-old will be representing Tonga in the Tokyo Olympics in taekwondo.

He has previously competed in cross country skiing and sprint kayak 200m.

“I thought I wanted to be the first person in modern history to compete in three different Olympic sports. So we had the taekwondo inside. We had the cross country skiing which is a long distance event out in the snow and then now it was about a short distant evet, the sprint on water.”

The soon to be three time Olympian said it was after his qualification in taekwondo that made him pursue further in other sports.

Tonga's shirtless flag-bearer from 2016 Olympics qualifies for Tokyo Games

Taufatofua is headed to Japan after winning an Oceania continental Olympic tae kwon do qualifier, although he only had to compete against one other competitor in his weight division for the spot.

The qualification means Taufatofua will now compete at his third-straight Olympics, having competed in tae kwon do in 2016 and cross-country skiing at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018.

In those two previous campaigns, Taufatofua was eliminated in the first round of competition in 2016 and finished 114th out of 116 in PyeongChang, 23 minutes behind the winner.

     

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua suffers injury blow

The 36-year-old represented the Kingdom in taekwondo at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio before switching to cross country skiing for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

In May, Taufatofua announced he was taking up kayaking in a bid to become the first person this century to compete in three different Olympic sports.

However, the Brisbane-based athlete tore his serratus muscles during training last week, while pushing for a new speed record, causing sharp pain along his side and lower ribs.

Training means no Christmas cake for Tonga's Pita Taufatofua

The two-sport Olympian, 36, is chasing a third unrelated sport title for the Kingdom, aiming to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Taufatofua first made global headlines with a shirtless entrance as Tonga's flagbearer at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

He represented his country in taekwondo in Rio before switching to cross country skiing for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, and will now attempt to qualify in canoe sprinting, his first-ever water event.

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua praying for progress before kayaking debut

The 35-year-old announced in May he had taken up kayaking in a bid to become the first person this century to compete in three different Olympic sports.

He first made global headlines with a shirtless entrance as Tonga's flagbearer at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, a feat he repeated at last year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

But, after representing his country in taekwondo and cross-country skiing, he admits his bid to qualify for Tokyo in a new discipline is not going well.

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua reveals Olympic kayaking dream

The 35 year old double Olympian first made global headlines with a shirtless entrance as Tonga's flagbearer at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, a feat he repeated at last year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

After representing his country in taekwondo and cross-country skiing, Taufatofua told RNZ Pacific in July last year he planned to take up another new sport in time for Tokyo 2020.

He's now revealed to the BBC he wants to be a sprint kayaker and has set his sights on qualifying for the K1 200m event in Japan.

Tonga's Taufatofua aiming to participate in third Olympic sport at Tokyo 2020

 Taufatofua represented his country in taekwondo at Rio 2016 and also featured in cross-country skiing at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games. 

He went viral as Tonga's flag bearer in Rio, having completed the task shirtless and oiled, and now appears keen to compete in Tokyo in an aquatics event.

"I will, hopefully, be the first male in history to do three completely different Olympic sports in three different arenas," he told Radio New Zealand, as reported by NZ Herald.

Tongan double Olympian becomes child advocate

In a ceremony in Tonga on Tuesday, Mr Taufatofua was signed up as Pacific Ambassador by the UN Children's agency, UNICEF.

The former youth counsellor and qualified engineer represented Tonga at the 2016 Olympics and then the winter Olympics earlier this year.

Mr Taufatofua said he would promote three main things as ambassador.

Tonga flag bearer guarantees medal if he makes 2020 Olympics in new sport

“I can guarantee you … whatever that next sport is, if I qualify for the Olympics in that sport, I will medal in that sport,” he said while visiting the UN last Wednesday for the Youth Dialogue event.

Taufatofua, who became a viral hit at the Rio Opening Ceremony and then competed in taekwondo and cross-country skiing in back-to-back Olympics, has known his new sport for at least two months. He traveled extensively since the Winter Games ended three months ago but found the time to tailor training for it.

Tonga’s flamboyant Olympic flag-bearer has inspiring message for youth

“The young people are the people who are going to dictate our future,” Mr. Taufatofua said in an interview with UN News during his first visit to the United Nations in New York.

The two-time Olympian was one of the main speakers at Tuesday’s United Nations Youth Dialogue event, where the President of the General Assembly and other senior officials joined young people to discuss increasing education and skills training, as well as how to prevent radicalization.