News | International
21 Sep 2019 21:30
NZCity News
NZCity CalculatorReturn to NZCity

  • Start Page
  • Personalise
  • Sport
  • Weather
  • Finance
  • Shopping
  • Jobs
  • Horoscopes
  • Lotto Results
  • Photo Gallery
  • Site Gallery
  • TVNow
  • Dating
  • SearchNZ
  • NZSearch
  • RugbyLeague
  • Make Home
  • About NZCity
  • Contact NZCity
  • Your Privacy
  • Advertising
  • Login
  • Join for Free

  •   Home > News > International

    Tonga's Pita Taufatofua aims to make Olympic history as he paddles his way to Tokyo 2020

    Pita Taufatofua, who first shot to fame as Tonga's shirtless flagbearer at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, is trying to make history as the first athlete to compete at the Olympics in three different sports — this time with a kayak.

    The small Pacific nation of Tonga is not traditionally considered a sporting powerhouse, but it may just make global sporting history at the 2020 Tokyo games.

    Tongan Olympian Pita Taufatofua — who first shot to fame as the country's shirtless oil-clad flagbearer at the 2016 Rio Olympics — has launched a bid to become a sprint kayaker at next year's games.

    The 35-year-old has previously competed in taekwondo and cross-country skiing.

    If he qualifies, that would make him the first athlete in the modern Olympic era to have competed at the Olympics in three separate sports.

    Speaking to ABC Pacific Mornings on Friday, he acknowledged that his introduction to the sport was a relatively recent phenomenon.

    "We've had six days of professional kayak coaching, [which] we've just finished going into the World Championships," Taufatofua told the ABC.

    "At the start of it I couldn't even stay on the kayak — so we had to learn very quickly."

    The championships are being held in Szeged, Hungary, and Taufatofua's K1 200-metre heat had a minor hitch.

    At the starting blocks, Taufatofua struggled to keep his kayak facing forward in strong winds, and eventually had to make a 360-degree turn while his competitors waited for him to get back into position.

    "I hit the starting block and the will in the current swung around," Taufatofua said.

    "We'd only learnt to start on a certain side, and I hadn't learnt the skills to stabilise myself under those conditions — so I went back around and kept my composure."

    Taufatofua failed to qualify as he finished last, clocking in at 58.19 — 24.22 seconds behind heat-winner Strahinja Stefanovic of Serbia.

    To compete at Tokyo's Olympic kayak race, he must record the fastest time in his heat at the 2020 Canoe Sprint Oceania Championships in February, otherwise he may receive a place via a special 'tripartite' invitation.

    This invitation would be decided by the International Olympic Committee, National Olympic Committees, and the International Canoeing Federation based on previous results and whether or not the invitee fits the Olympic principle of universal representation.

    World championships were Taufatofua's kayak debut

    Taufatofua said the championships were the first time he had ever faced a sprint kayaking starting block.

    "We hadn't actually trained in them — I guess it was a comedy of errors," he said.

    But while it may have appeared to be an unconventional start in the sport, it hasn't weakened Taufatofua's resolve to make Olympic history.

    "I want to be the first to compete in three unrelated sports — the goal is still there and it's only just started," he said.

    "I'm not worried about criticism, and I guess that gives me the freedom to try."

    When he returns to Tonga, Taufatofua will also be trying to qualify for taekwondo in the Olympics, which may see him compete in two separate Olympic sports in Tokyo if successful.

    "It's always about trying to reach that next level," he said.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

     Other International News
     21 Sep: How do you take care of your dog and the environment?
     21 Sep: 2019 Emmys nominations list: Game of Thrones, Veep and Netflix look to score big
     21 Sep: US state dinner: Donald Trump to serve Scott Morrison sole, serenade him with violins
     21 Sep: Bird populations are collapsing, and it's a sign of a bigger problem
     20 Sep: Genetic data allows scientists to reconstruct what a Denisovan may have looked like for the first time
     20 Sep: Woman's blood turns inky blue after using numbing agent for toothache
     20 Sep: China to expand controversial Social Credit System to 33 million companies ahead of 2020
     Top Stories

    Kick off to the All Blacks' mouth-watering Rugby World Cup opener against the Springboks is nearing More...

    An independent economist's questioning whether the Government's long term economic plan is good enough More...

     Today's News

    Rugby League:
    It'll be a battle of wings in the NRL semi-finals tonight 21:16

    Kick off to the All Blacks' mouth-watering Rugby World Cup opener against the Springboks is nearing 20:46

    Rugby League:
    Parramatta prop Marata Niukore is looking forward to implementing his physical style of play in tonight's NRL semi-final 18:56

    Living & Travel:
    It's all hands on deck in Dunedin's Octagon - with punters out and about for Fleetwood Mac's performance tonight, or gathering to watch the All Blacks 18:36

    Law and Order:
    A 35-year-old man's been taken into custody following a series of incidents in central Auckland today 18:06

    Tasman's maintained their perfect record in the Mitre 10 Cup with a 35-26 win over Waikato in Hamilton 17:56

    An independent economist's questioning whether the Government's long term economic plan is good enough 17:26

    New Zealanders in Japan are going for a quick-change before the All Blacks take to the rugby field 17:26

    Rugby League:
    It's been a long journey for kiwi Marata Niukore as he embarks on another NRL finals match 16:56

    Accident and Emergency:
    Three people are thought to be injured after a crash involving a minivan inland from Whanganui 15:26

     News Search

    Power Search

    © 2019 New Zealand City Ltd