Shirtless Tongan flag-bearer Pita Taufatofua qualifies


Pita Taufatofua, better known as the shirtless Tongan flag-bearer from the 2016 Summer Olympics, qualified for the Pyeongchang Olympics in cross-country skiing following a last-gasp effort Saturday, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Taufatofua clinched his Olympic berth with a qualifying performance at an event in Isafjordur, Iceland.

"I gave it absolutely everything," he told the Journal. "I died at the end."

He also posted about his qualification on Instagram, writing that "a miracle happened."

Taufatofua, who had not competed on snow before 2016, had needed to meet standards in five races by Sunday's cutoff. He was able to reach the mark in four roller-skiing events, then locked in his berth Saturday after driving across Iceland in what the Journal described as avalanche conditions.

He had previously eyed qualification in Poland two weeks ago but was unsuccessful. An effort in Armenia last week failed too.

Taufatofua competed in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He was eliminated in his first bout.

He said he has "no idea" how he will fund the trip to South Korea for next month's Olympics but told the Journal he is already planning his role in the opening ceremony.