7 Dec 2016

Sport: Taufatofua not giving up taekwondo despite Winter Olympics bid

12:48 pm on 7 December 2016

Pita Taufatofua still intends to compete in taekwondo despite announcing his bid to qualify for the Winter Olympics.

The 33-year-old Oceania champion made global headlines following his shirtless entrance at the Rio Olympics opening ceremony in August.

He announced this week he was taking up cross-country skiing in an attempt to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, despite having never skied before.

Pita Taufatofua has taken up cross-country skiing.

Pita Taufatofua has taken up cross-country skiing. Photo: Pita Taufatofua / The Olympic Channel

But Taufatofua said that did not mean he had given up on taekwondo.

"Ever since I was a kid my goal was to medal at the Olympics," he said.

"One of the goals was to make the Olympics, secondly was to medal but we are four years away from the next Olympics so I'm still doing taekwondo, I'm certainly still very strong in the taekwondo aspect.

"Ski just represents another sport that I can also do."

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua lands a blow on Iran's Sajjad Mardani during their men's in his +80kg taekwondo qualifying bout in Rio.

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua lands a blow on Iran's Sajjad Mardani during their men's in his +80kg taekwondo qualifying bout in Rio. Photo: AFP

"The benefits of training and looking after yourself in these areas is that we can do (multiple sports). We don't have, there's no rule saying we can only do one sport," said Taufatofua.

"They coincide with each other - there's certain aspects: core strength, leg strength and one of the biggest things I found from the last Olympics is mentality - how strong is your mind to push through when the pain starts kicking in?

"So yeah I think they can certainly complement each other."

Pita Taufatofua said if his Winter Olympics bid fails there's always another opportunity four years down the line.

Tonga's flagbearer Pita Nikolas Taufatofua leads his delegation during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Tonga's flagbearer Pita Taufatofua leads his delegation during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games. Photo: AFP

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