The Tonga flag bearer was a highlight of the Rio 2016 opening ceremony last Friday night, according to the Business Insider. A taekwondo fighter named Pita Nikolas Taufatofua stole the show and made his country a star nation of the opening night.
— E! News (@enews) August 9, 2016
Taufatofua, who is an Australian-born athlete, was a highlight of the opening night during the parade as Taufatofua came out wearing only a Tongan mat and had his whole body covered with oil.
Ever since then, the Tonga flag bearer became a huge hit on the Internet, as well as in the entire sports world. In fact, it was a special night for the Tongan athlete as this year it was his first Olympics, and he became the nation’s first taekwondo Olympian.
The Tonga flag bearer marched the parade with a special reason. Shortly before making his spectacular entrance, Taufatofua launched a Generosity page in order to crowdsource money.
Taufatofua explained that the Generosity page was started in order to fund a training camp with top-class taekwondo fighters, as well as to teach kids and adults at the training camp his fighting skills.
In addition to that, the sensational Tonga flag bearer is planning to hire a strength and conditioning coach, buy the electronic system that will be used at the Rio Olympics by himself and his nation’s team, and cover his costs of travel to Rio.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 8, 2016
However, Taufatofua came up short of his goal, making only $6,262 instead of the planned $100,000. But it won’t dampen the spirits of Taufatofua as this is the athlete who has had multiple injuries in his fighting career and was even wheelchair-bound for as long as a quarter of a year.
The Tonga flag bearer took to Facebook hours before his sensational entrance, announcing that there will be “a little surprise” during the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday night and warned to not “blink or you’ll miss it.”
His shiny entrance earned the Tonga flag bearer over 1,000 followers on Instagram within just an hour. Taufatofua is a 32-year-old Australian-born athlete who has never gotten past the first round of taekwondo world championship in his three attempts.
Nevertheless, the Tonga flag bearer has been preparing to carry his nation’s flag since July 22, when the athlete was selected as Tonga’s flag bearer for this year’s Rio Olympics, according to the Wall Street Journal. It sure looks like Taufatofua is proud of his ripped body.
The Tonga flag bearer has been sharing shirtless selfies via his Instagram account for several months. On some photos, the hit Tongan athlete is seen holding puppies. It seems like the athlete decided to enjoy his life to the fullest ever since breaking six bones and ripping apart three ligaments.
In fact, Taufatofua had to use crutches for a year and a half before becoming the Tonga flag bearer. And this year he had two of his dreams come true: first, he won the Oceania taekwondo qualifying tournament in Papua New Guinea, and then he became an Olympian for Tonga.
— Gay Star News (@gaystarnews) August 6, 2016
In his interview with a New Zealand radio station earlier this year, Taufatofua admitted there is nothing else in his life that gives him the same challenge that taekwondo gives him.
“Getting onto the mats; getting into the ring to fight somebody you don’t hate and whose sole purpose is to kick you in the head and your purpose is to kick them in the head.”
The only thing that the Tonga flag bearer failed this year seems to be his crowdsourcing campaign.
[Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images]