Remember Pita Taufatofua? He was the Tongan flag-bearer at the 2016 Olympics who became popular for reasons beyond his taekwondo skills.
Maybe this will refresh your memory:
For everyone who enjoyed that video, we have good news: Taufatofua has qualified for the upcoming Winter Olympics as a cross-country skiier. He will be Tonga’s first ever Olympic skiier and, as of now, the lone representative from the small Pacific archipelago, which experiences temperature highs in the mid-80s this time of year.
Incredibly, Taufatofua qualified for the Pyeongchang Games despite picking up cross-country skiing just over a year ago. After returning home from Rio, Taufatofua searched for the “hardest sport possible” to pursue for 2018, and in December 2016 he put on skis for the first time. He trained rigorously and, after seven failures, qualified Saturday in the second to last event before the end of qualification.
In an interview with The Olympic Channel, Taufatofua was practically giddy about becoming a Winter Olympian.
“The goal was to do it in one year, and we did it in one year,” he said. “We sacrificed everything to be here. Financially, I’m in the worst position ever, but I’m the happiest ever. There was the finances, there was the training. This was completely different. I had to lose 15 kilograms.”
And in case you’re wondering whether Taufatofua still looks like he did in Rio? He most definitely does.