It may not be the fairy tale ending for Pita Taufatofua, more popularly known in social media as the Shirtless Tongan, as he finished 114th overall in cross-country skiing competition in PyeongChang, South Korea.
But the 34-year-old is nevertheless happy with his performance even if he finished 23 minutes after Switzerland’s Dario Cologna, the eventual gold medal winner. He even waved the Tongan flag around after crossing the finish line.
In an Instagram message, he wrote, “Couldn’t be happier! Got my best time, finished the race and didn’t ski into a tree! But more importantly I got to share the experience with all our friends from the other exotic countries who never gave up!”
Taufatofua added, “Soo much respect to them, the medalists and all athletes from around the world who represented their countries with pride!”
At the very least, the Tongan finished better compared two other athletes from two tropical countries, Colombian Sebastian Uprimny and Mexican German Madrazo who finished dead last, and 2:53 minutes slower than Taufatofua.
But the Shirtless Tongan wasn’t complaining about his finish, the hard work at training or the debts incurred trying to get here. He just wants to go back to where the sun is.
“I don’t know about being the most popular man, but I’m the coldest man,” he quipped to reporters afterwards.
Of finishing last, the Tongan said that he was more than happy that he finished with his friends, the Colombian and the Mexican. The three naturally gravitated toward each other for their common experiences. They also trained together at some point.
“We fought together, we finished together,” he said, adding that he and his friends were actually racing against each other in order not to finish last. While that distinction belongs to the Mexican athlete, Taufatofua said that they will have a good laugh about it at dinner.