The one and only cross-country skier from Tonga at the Olympics

You might not remember him by his name, Pita Taufatofua, but probably you do remember the flag-bearer from Tonga at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Pita changed sports in order to make it to the Winter Olympics as the only cross-country skier from Tonga. 

During the Rio Olympics, his sport was taekwondo.  But then he decided to make a shift to cross-country skiing in order to make it to Pyeongchang. It took him 12 months to train and get in shape for these games. 

 Most impressive of it all is that he was a finalist for the Winter Olympics as the only competitor from Tonga. It takes years of practice and sacrifices to make it to the pinnacle of Olympic competition, but it took Taufatofua merely one year to get there, which makes his story all more unique. 

This transition would not have been possible if it were not for Paul Bragiel. Bragiel is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. He tried to compete as cross-country skier for Sochi in 2014 but came short. 

One year later, he was invited by Leafa Mataele Wawryk, the secretary general of the Tongan Winter Olympics team, to help them grow the team, and he agreed. Then he was invited to the coronation of Tongo's king, and to the Tongo's Olympic committee, which is where he met Pita. 

"This motherf----r picked up a brand new sport in 12 months!" said Paul Bragiel, who joined the Sunday festivities. "And it wasn't like he was an endurance runner like a marathoner — he was doing taekwondo!"

According to the Wall Street Journal, this is the first sports transition in Olympic history.  Taufatofua lost 20 pounds to make this transition.  Qualifying for the Olympics was already a feat, but being in the top three is simply historical. 

 

What's Hots »

Phil Mickleson Loses at Royal Troon

Phil Mickleson Loses at Royal Troon

Any golf fan should recognize his name. Phil Mickleson is one of the greats and one of many dominant forces in today’s competitive golf. The many-times champion has faced many painful losses over such an illustrious career, and can still suffer from them today. In fact, Mickleson faced another…

Three players at the Senior PGA Championship at Harbour Shores

Three players at the Senior PGA Championship at Harbour Shores

The Senior PGA Championship took place at the Harbour Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbour, Michigan and here are the 3 golfers who won first, second and third place. Rocco Mediate, a 54-year-old American golfer, had already won the PGA Tour six times, and three times in the Champions Tour. He won by…

Jason Day has successful year in 2015

Jason Day has successful year in 2015

Jason Day is an Australian professional golfer and PGA Tour member. His greatest achievement was breaking the record of the World’s Top ten golfers in June, 2011. Due to his achievement, he is the USA runner-up and is in ninth place. In addition to this, in February, 2014, Jason Day won the…

Emiliano Grillo Wins in Napa, CA

Emiliano Grillo Wins in Napa, CA

Emiliano Grillo is a 23 year-old golfer from Argentina. He started his professional career in 2011 by competing in the European Tour and finished in the top 10 after competing in the 2012 Africa Open. In 2014, at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, he was runner-up to Stephen Gallacher. He also won the…

What's Trending »

What to know about Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Madison Ruck

What to know about Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Madison Ruck

The Olympic Games is where the best of the best meet to test their skills. Where age does not matter, only the ambition, and the aggressive spirit of the athletes, it is always an honor to represent one’s country on the world’s stage like the Olympic Games. Penny Oleksiak and Taylor…

Who is Tracy Caulkins?

Tracy Anne Caulkins is a 53 year-old former competition swimmer. She is a three time Olympic gold medalist and five time world champion and a former world record holder in three events. She started training at the age of 8 after watching the 1972 Munich Olympics. She decided that she wanted to…

Women athletes: Janet Guthrie (race cars) and Toni Stone (baseball)

In today’s life, women are equally participating with men in every field and they are also contributing in the field of sports. There are several prominent and famous women athletes whose contribution cannot be neglected. Two of them are Janet Guthrie and Toni Stone Janet Guthrie Janet Guthrie…

Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine

Elina Svotolina is a young tennis player from the Ukraine. She was born in 1994 and began playing tennis when she was only five years old. According to her, it was her childhood dream to play tennis and now she is achieving her goals. In an interview she told her fans about her skills and personal…

Three American women who have won the ESPY Award

The ESPY awards are held each year to celebrate the world of sports, both male and female, single players and teams. The ESPY awards are presented by ESPN and televised on the ESPN network. Despite being a paid cable channel and marketed towards those with a keen interest in sports, ESPN and the…

What's New »

Detroit Lions Signs Veteran QB Matt Cassel

The news is that veteran quarterback Matt Cassel had inked a deal with the Detroit Lions. Cassel will not come to a land of strangers; he has worked with the Lion’s head coach, Matt Patricia as well as the current Lions’ general manager, Bob Quinn. A Journeyman Quarterback Cassel’s…

New York Jets welcome back Quincy Enunwa

The last time Quincy Enunwa donned a New York Jets jersey was nearly two years ago on New Year's Day, the last game of the 2016 season. Enunwa would go on to miss the entire next season because of a neck injury becoming a restricted free agent right after the season ended. For 2018, the New York…

Donnie Jones Considering NFL Comeback

Donnie Jones, the former punter of the Philadelphia Eagles, is considering an NFL comeback. Jones announced his retirement last February, but it looks like he is reconsidering his previous decision. According to Ken Harris, agent of Donnie Jones, the punter asked his former team to release him from…

Oregon Football's Fortnite Celebrations

Oregon going with Fortnite celebrations (via Go Ducks)

Mayfield Wants to be the QB to Fix the Browns’ Performance

Baker Mayfield believes he can fix the performance of the Cleveland Browns. The team owns the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, and many experts believe they will be choosing the former Oklahoma quarterback. The Browns have had poor luck when it comes to choosing quarterbacks. However, that is not…