Kayak to the future! Tongan Taufatofua targets Tokyo Olympics

By Sports Desk April 29, 2019

Pita Taufatofua hopes to create a splash at a third straight Olympic Games after revealing his plan to compete in kayaking at Tokyo 2020.

The Tongan shot to fame in 2016 when, as his country's flagbearer, he entered the stadium in Rio in traditional dress, including covering his bare torso in coconut oil.

Taekwondo was Taufatofua's sport in Rio, though he was back on a global stage two years later in PyeongChang when he switched seasons, becoming Tonga's first skier at a Winter Olympics.

Now the 35-year-old has set his target on competing at the next Olympics too - only this time in the water.

"I want to be a sprint kayaker," he told BBC Sport.

"It's a sport that's close to my heart as it's what my ancestors did for thousands of years when they colonised the Polynesian islands."

However, a major issue for Taufatofua is a lack of equipment. He used crowd-funding campaigns for previous Olympics but hopes to find "a partner or two" this time who can help finance his grand plan for next year.

"I'm currently training with a recreational kayak which is a completely different size and weight to the professional ones you'll see at the Olympics," he revealed.

"A new kayak could be anything up to $10,000, but I'm also looking for a partner or two that wants to be part of this journey and believes in what we're doing."

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