Tonga flag isn’t capitalizing on sex symbol status at Olympics

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Josh Peter

 |  USA TODAY Sports

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea  — The Tongan athlete who could be mistaken for a Chippendales dancer indicated he is not capitalizing on his sex symbol status here at the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

Pita Taufatofua, who marched shirtless and oiled-up during the Opening Ceremony after doing the same thing at 2016 Summer Olympics, brushed aside about a question about how his fame has impacted his prospects on Valentine’s Day.
 
Then he disclosed he was married. Sort of.

“I’m married to what it is that I do right now,’’  said Taufatofua, and he does more than march bare-chested in subfreezing temperatures.

On Friday, Taufatofua will compete in the 15km freestyle cross skiing event, for which he qualified despite have spent only 12 weeks on real snow and training mostly on roller skis.

Asked about his goals, he said, “First step, finish before they turn the lights off. That’s number one. Don’t ski into a tree. That’s number two.’’

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Taufatofua, who competed in Taekwondo at the the 2016 Rio Games, said he may try to qualify for the Olympics in a third sport — something he said has never been done before.

“Maybe water is the next thing,’’ he said, sounding almost as coy as when a South Korea reporter asked if there was a message for women in this country who want to marry him.

“If you want to marry me, maybe you’ve got to become a sport because I’m married to my sport,’’ Taufatofua said. “So I have to divorce that first.’’

 



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