That Viral Tongan Flag-Bearer Is Going to the Winter Olympics

Could this Tongan cross-country skiing novice be a GOAT in the making?

Pita Taufatofua at the 2016 Closing Ceremony.

Image via Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Pita Taufatofua at the 2016 Closing Ceremony.

The Tongan flag-bearer that gained viral fame after making his super oiled-up debut at the 2016 Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony has achieved his dream of participating in cross-country skiing at the upcoming Winter Olympics. Pita Taufatofua is headed to Pyeongchang, South Korea, and despite coming from a small island that would make training for Olympic skiing impossible, he has been "moving mountains" to achieve his goal. 

In his quest to make it to the Olympics, Taufatofua even set up a GoFundMe page to help crowdsource the funds he would need to reach his goal. "After working for 15 years councelling [sic] homeless youth, I found my calling," he writes on the page for his fundraiser. "My goal is to motivate and inspire people to reach for the best within them and I do that through setting seemingly "Impossible" goals and then moving mountains to achieve them. And that is how a coconut from the pacific  found himself thousands of miles from home swimming around on Cross country skis in a constant state of hypothermia."

Funds for his goal would go towards getting him a decent pair of skiis—"my rental skiis felt like dragging a sack of sweet potatoes through the snow"—as well as accommodations, travel, and coaching fees. With the help of generous strangers, Taufatofua was able to fund his training and travel to multiple continents to participate in races that would qualify him for the Olympic Games. His journey to learn to cross-country skiing in a year's time seemed like a long shot, but sure enough, his dedication paid off. Taufatofua will now be making his next Olympic debut as an athlete...though he probably won't be needing all that oil this time around.

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