Pita Taufatofua: The Shirtless Man From Tonga Completes Event & Shows True Olympic Spirit by Jen Imbaro
As an American, rooting for our athletes in the Olympics always promises to be exciting – filled with gold-medal contenders, inspiring comebacks and sports stars seeking redemption. I love every second of it. But what I love even more about the Olympics are the stories about people like the shirtless man from Tonga.
I didn't know anything about Pita Taufatofua other than thinking he was a bit crazy at the opening ceremony. Then, I caught a recap of his event in cross country skiing, and was struck at his pure expression of the Olympic spirit. Tonga has no snow, but he spent the last year learning how to ski, and only did so on snow less than 12 weeks before his event. He's now had the privilege of carrying the flag for Tonga in both a summer and a winter Olympics.
What's amazing is that he didn't come in last! He came in 114th out of 119, and then waited with a few fellow competitors for the last skier to cross the finish line, giving him a gold medal worthy lift up on their shoulders.
This is what the it's about. Getting there. Competing. Finishing. Representing. Inspiring. Having fun.
Congratulations, Pita! I hope we see you waving your flag again.
Photo: Pita Taufatofua (Twitter)