Pita Taufatofua’s qualifying road to PyeongChang 2018 is the stuff of Hollywood movie scripts. The second Tongan ever to attend the Winter Olympics once picked cassava on the weekends and shared a one-bedroom house with seven other people. But 20 years of hard work took him to Rio 2016 competing in tae kwon do, and now to PyeongChang, where he’ll be the first Tongan in history to compete in Olympic skiing.
The twist? Pita only learned how to ski a year ago, and he had only trained 10 weeks on actual snow. He raced in several countries, got stranded in airports, failed to qualify over and over again, and stumbled and fell countless of times before qualifying. Yet he’s about to reach several historic milestones at the 2018 Winter Olympics. To celebrate Taufatofua’s perseverance and his embodiment of the Olympic spirit, here are 12 inspirational quotes:
On material wealth
Financially I’m in the worst position ever. But I’m the happiest ever.
On perception vs. reality
People don’t see the work that goes on behind. People only see the shiny guy that walks with a flag, but so much work has been put in. Not just me, but the whole team, the whole country, and all the people who support us.
On being an inspirational figure
On reaching high
On the Olympic spirit
Medals? Medals are good. But the Olympic spirit is the most important thing to me.