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Pictures | Fri Feb 9, 2018 | 1:35pm EST

Tonga's bare-chested Olympic flag-bearer

Pita Taufatofua, Tonga's bare-chested flag-bearer for their one-man Winter Olympics team, was given a warm reception by the crowd in sub-zero temperatures at the Opening Ceremony on Friday.

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Pita Taufatofua, Tonga's bare-chested flag-bearer for their one-man Winter Olympics team, was given a warm reception by the crowd in sub-zero temperatures at the Opening Ceremony on Friday. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Pita Taufatofua, Tonga's bare-chested flag-bearer for their one-man Winter Olympics team, was given a warm reception by the crowd in sub-zero temperatures at the Opening Ceremony on Friday. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
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Cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua emerged from the tunnel covered in body oil and wearing a grass skirt, sandals and a huge smile as he led the Tongan delegation around the arena.

REUTERS/Phil Noble

Cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua emerged from the tunnel covered in body oil and wearing a grass skirt, sandals and a huge smile as he led the Tongan delegation around the arena. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua emerged from the tunnel covered in body oil and wearing a grass skirt, sandals and a huge smile as he led the Tongan delegation around the arena. REUTERS/Phil Noble
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The 34-year-old Taufatofua also carried his country's flag at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (R) where he competed in taekwondo.

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/Stoyan Nenov

The 34-year-old Taufatofua also carried his country's flag at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (R) where he competed in taekwondo. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/Stoyan Nenov

The 34-year-old Taufatofua also carried his country's flag at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (R) where he competed in taekwondo. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/Stoyan Nenov
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The flag of Tonga is paraded during the Pyeongchang opening ceremony. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

The flag of Tonga is paraded during the Pyeongchang opening ceremony. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

The flag of Tonga is paraded during the Pyeongchang opening ceremony. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski
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The Australia-born 34-year-old had never seen snow until two years ago but will become just the second athlete from the balmy Pacific nation to qualify for a Winter Games.

REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

The Australia-born 34-year-old had never seen snow until two years ago but will become just the second athlete from the balmy Pacific nation to qualify for a Winter Games. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

The Australia-born 34-year-old had never seen snow until two years ago but will become just the second athlete from the balmy Pacific nation to qualify for a Winter Games. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
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Having eschewed movie offers and modelling contracts after a telegenic appearance at the Rio Olympics, taekwondo fighter Taufatofua (seen here during qualifications at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Lahti, Finland in February 2017) will compete as a cross-country skier at Pyeongchang, a reinvention worthy of a Hollywood script.

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Having eschewed movie offers and modelling contracts after a telegenic appearance at the Rio Olympics, taekwondo fighter Taufatofua (seen here during qualifications at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Lahti, Finland in February 2017) will...more

Having eschewed movie offers and modelling contracts after a telegenic appearance at the Rio Olympics, taekwondo fighter Taufatofua (seen here during qualifications at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Lahti, Finland in February 2017) will compete as a cross-country skier at Pyeongchang, a reinvention worthy of a Hollywood script. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
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Taufatofua (R, seen here competing against Iran's Sajjad Mardani in Rio) had to battle through four Olympic cycles to become Tonga's first Olympic taekwondo competitor at Rio, so making it to Pyeongchang was a doddle by comparison.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Taufatofua (R, seen here competing against Iran's Sajjad Mardani in Rio) had to battle through four Olympic cycles to become Tonga's first Olympic taekwondo competitor at Rio, so making it to Pyeongchang was a doddle by comparison. REUTERS/Issei...more

Taufatofua (R, seen here competing against Iran's Sajjad Mardani in Rio) had to battle through four Olympic cycles to become Tonga's first Olympic taekwondo competitor at Rio, so making it to Pyeongchang was a doddle by comparison. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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"It still feels quite strange actually being here because it took me 20 years to get to Rio, (and) just one year to get here," the former youth worker told Reuters at the Pyeongchang athletes' village. "But, you know, it's just an honor. I mean, how many countries in the Pacific get to go to a Winter Games?"

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

"It still feels quite strange actually being here because it took me 20 years to get to Rio, (and) just one year to get here," the former youth worker told Reuters at the Pyeongchang athletes' village. "But, you know, it's just an honor. I mean, how...more

"It still feels quite strange actually being here because it took me 20 years to get to Rio, (and) just one year to get here," the former youth worker told Reuters at the Pyeongchang athletes' village. "But, you know, it's just an honor. I mean, how many countries in the Pacific get to go to a Winter Games?" REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
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The image of Taufatofua -- oiled up, shirtless and wearing a traditional Tongan skirt at the head of the country's tiny delegation at Rio's Maracana stadium -- went viral on social media, thrusting him into minor celebrity.

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The image of Taufatofua -- oiled up, shirtless and wearing a traditional Tongan skirt at the head of the country's tiny delegation at Rio's Maracana stadium -- went viral on social media, thrusting him into minor celebrity. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The image of Taufatofua -- oiled up, shirtless and wearing a traditional Tongan skirt at the head of the country's tiny delegation at Rio's Maracana stadium -- went viral on social media, thrusting him into minor celebrity. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
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His appearance at the taekwondo tournament was over quickly, however, with a 16-1 thrashing in his first match. But in the birth country of taekwondo, he was more than happy to break out a few spinning kicks for the benefit of a scrum of South Korean Olympic volunteers, who beamed as they snapped photos at the athletes' village.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

His appearance at the taekwondo tournament was over quickly, however, with a 16-1 thrashing in his first match. But in the birth country of taekwondo, he was more than happy to break out a few spinning kicks for the benefit of a scrum of South Korean...more

His appearance at the taekwondo tournament was over quickly, however, with a 16-1 thrashing in his first match. But in the birth country of taekwondo, he was more than happy to break out a few spinning kicks for the benefit of a scrum of South Korean Olympic volunteers, who beamed as they snapped photos at the athletes' village. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Offers of paid modelling gigs and film roles were swept aside after Rio, however, as Taufatofua pondered his next great challenge. The gruelling discipline of cross-country skiing proved an easy choice. It was the "hardest" thing he could think of doing.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Offers of paid modelling gigs and film roles were swept aside after Rio, however, as Taufatofua pondered his next great challenge. The gruelling discipline of cross-country skiing proved an easy choice. It was the "hardest" thing he could think of...more

Offers of paid modelling gigs and film roles were swept aside after Rio, however, as Taufatofua pondered his next great challenge. The gruelling discipline of cross-country skiing proved an easy choice. It was the "hardest" thing he could think of doing. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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With no snow in Tonga or near his Brisbane base in Australia, Taufatofua's training regime began with running on sand dunes with wooden planks strapped to his feet. "We had to mimic being on snow while not being on snow," he said. "We'd strap pieces of wood to our feet and run on the sand just to get the balance and some sort of glide."

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

With no snow in Tonga or near his Brisbane base in Australia, Taufatofua's training regime began with running on sand dunes with wooden planks strapped to his feet. "We had to mimic being on snow while not being on snow," he said. "We'd strap pieces...more

With no snow in Tonga or near his Brisbane base in Australia, Taufatofua's training regime began with running on sand dunes with wooden planks strapped to his feet. "We had to mimic being on snow while not being on snow," he said. "We'd strap pieces of wood to our feet and run on the sand just to get the balance and some sort of glide." REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
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Financing his second Olympic dream was also a constant battle and he started a crowdfunding campaign to pay for training in proper northern hemisphere snow. He failed in his first six attempts to qualify but reached the mark in his final chance, only weeks ago in Iceland. With only enough money to book one-way tickets to the Iceland qualifier, he ended up having to borrow money from his brother to get a plane home.

REUTERS/Sean M. Haffey

Financing his second Olympic dream was also a constant battle and he started a crowdfunding campaign to pay for training in proper northern hemisphere snow. He failed in his first six attempts to qualify but reached the mark in his final chance, only...more

Financing his second Olympic dream was also a constant battle and he started a crowdfunding campaign to pay for training in proper northern hemisphere snow. He failed in his first six attempts to qualify but reached the mark in his final chance, only weeks ago in Iceland. With only enough money to book one-way tickets to the Iceland qualifier, he ended up having to borrow money from his brother to get a plane home. REUTERS/Sean M. Haffey
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Taufatofua's cross-country skiing adventure may only be a quick diversion before he re-focuses on taekwondo, a sport that has given him six broken bones, three torn ligaments and hundreds of hours of rehabilitation.

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Taufatofua's cross-country skiing adventure may only be a quick diversion before he re-focuses on taekwondo, a sport that has given him six broken bones, three torn ligaments and hundreds of hours of rehabilitation. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Taufatofua's cross-country skiing adventure may only be a quick diversion before he re-focuses on taekwondo, a sport that has given him six broken bones, three torn ligaments and hundreds of hours of rehabilitation. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
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A third successive Olympic appearance at the 2020 summer Games in Tokyo may be on the agenda. "Taekwondo and skiing, now they're all in my blood," he said.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

A third successive Olympic appearance at the 2020 summer Games in Tokyo may be on the agenda. "Taekwondo and skiing, now they're all in my blood," he said. REUTERS/Issei Kato

A third successive Olympic appearance at the 2020 summer Games in Tokyo may be on the agenda. "Taekwondo and skiing, now they're all in my blood," he said. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Pita Nikolas Taufatofua leads his contingent during the athletes' parade at the Rio 2016 opening ceremony.

REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Pita Nikolas Taufatofua leads his contingent during the athletes' parade at the Rio 2016 opening ceremony. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Pita Nikolas Taufatofua leads his contingent during the athletes' parade at the Rio 2016 opening ceremony. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
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