1 NEWS Reporter
A Tongan has qualified in cross country skiing for the 2018 Olympics after only ten weeks of practice on snow and a year on roller skies.
Pita Taufatofua, who usually specialises in Taekwondo, gained worldwide attention during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Olympics when as a flagbearer for the island nation he appeared shirtless and his torso extremely well oiled.
Speaking from Iceland, an ecstatic Mr Tuafatofua said it was a, "miracle" he qualified – on his last race on the last day of the qualifiers.
"This I give all to the big man upstairs, this is a miracle there is nothing I have that is this special!"
He said after the 2016 Olympics where he competed in Taekwondo, he decided to find the hardest sport possible because he needed a new challenge.
Mr Taufatofua's had to lose 15kg and has only had ten weeks practising cross country skiing on the snow – the rest of the year he's had to use roller skies.
"We sacrificed everything to be here. Financially, I am in the worst position ever but I am the happiest ever," he said.
This will be the second time Tonga – which has a tropical temperature range of 23-28 degrees – will take part in the Winter Olympics. In 2014 the Kingdom entered a luge team.
The Waka Ama sprint nationals drew nearly 3500 paddlers to Lake Karapiro this week, it's the largest Maori sporting event in the country, but one woman's team is bending the rules about how many paddlers a crew can have on board.
Jamie Lee Tuhoe is the steerer for her elite W6 women’s squad.
She is bending the rules a bit, at seven months pregnant she's made her six member squad technically a W7.
Jamie Lee Tuhoe said she has no problems competing while being pregnant.
"She's all good (baby), I mean when you're out there you forget it's all about the race," said Tuhoe.
"But then afterwards she gets a bit of relaxation and a bit of love."
Legends of the sport are happy to see a heavily hapu woman competing.
"I think that's pretty amazing – yeah it's awesome," said waka ama competitor Ray Timihou.
"Good on her and hopefully her pepe (baby) will be tough and be a paddler too," said waka ama competitor Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr.
Even with a baby on board Tuhoe's team have been setting cracking pace, her crew making the finals today.