Tonga’s famous flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua, said he wants to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier.
“I’m going to be taking my Olympic dream one step further,” Taufatofua said in an Olympic Channel video published Monday. “My goal is to let people see, if I can do it, they can do it. The goal is to hunt down that Olympic medal at the 2018 Olympics.”
Sure enough, Taufatofua already has an International Ski Federation bio page. The federation lists one other Tongan cross-country skier with a bio, Makeleta Stephan, who was last of 93 finishers in a 2015 World Championships event.
In 2014, Bruno Banani became the first Tongan to compete at a Winter Olympics, placing 32nd in men’s luge. He was later the subject of a documentary. Banani gained fame starting in early 2012, when the story of his name was widely publicized. Banani’s real name is Fuahea Semi, but he changed it to the name of his German clothing sponsor as a marketing ploy.
Taufatofua lost his opening Olympic taekwondo match by mercy rule in Rio, two weeks after his his shirtless, oiled-up appearance in the Opening Ceremony.
Judging by the Olympic Channel video, Taufatofua’s chances of qualifying for the Olympics look better for Tokyo 2020 than Pyeongchang 2018.
PHOTOS: Tongan flag bearer steals show at Opening Ceremony
Tongan flag bearer Pita Taufatofua strutted on a catwalk, shirtless, at the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday.
“We were right behind Pita in his lead up to Rio,” show director Nora Swann said, according to the New Zealand Herald. “We secured him as a model for our show before he broke the internet at the Olympics.
“He has been getting invitations from all over the world and we were concerned he might not be available for our show. But he assured us that he honours his commitments. We just feel privileged that he will be on our runway.”
Taufatogua said in a video interview at the fashion show that he has received marriage proposals from men and women since his oiled-up appearance at the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony.
PHOTOS: Tonga flag bearer steals show at Opening Ceremony
Competing for Azerbaijan in the Olympics for the first time after representing Russia in London four years ago, Radik Isaev took gold in the men’s +80 kg weight class Saturday night.
WATCH: Radik Isaev takes gold in +80 kg taekwondo
Isaev defeated Abdoulrazek Issoufou Alfaga of Niger in the gold medal match by the final score of 6-2, winning Azerbaijan’s first taekwondo gold medal of these Olympics. Alfaga’s silver medal represents Niger’s first Olympic medal in taekwondo, and it’s the second medal won by the country in its Olympic history. Issaka Daborg took bronze in boxing at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
WATCH: Men’s +80 kg taekwondo medal ceremony
Winning bronze medals were Maicon Siqueira of Brazil and Cha Dong-Min of North Korea, with Siqueira being the biggest surprise of the tournament. Siqueira is currently ranked 51st in the world, and few expected him to advance as far as he did.