#PacificAusSports Spotlight: History-making Tongan Olympian Pita Taufatofua
Pandemic border closures may have derailed his last-minute history making kayaking qualification, but Tongan Olympian Pita Taufatofua is still on his way to Tokyo 2020 in Taekwondo.
Pita was aiming to become the first Olympian to compete in three different Games in three different sports (Taekwondo, Cross Country Skiing, K1 200m Kayak).
Speaking from his training base in Brisbane, Australia earlier this month, Taufatofua was grateful for the support from the Australian Government’s #PacificAusSports program in helping him, and countless other pacific athletes, receive the support they require to qualify and compete at #Tokyo2020.
“Every time I wear the red or have the Tongan flag on me it makes me feel like it’s a privilege to carry the hearts and the souls of the Tongan people, and the Pacific Islanders as well, into battle or competition,” he said.
“So I wanted to send a big thank you out to DFAT and #PacificAusSports because they have given us the opportunity through their funding for the athletes to actually get to competition, to prepare for the Olympics, prepare for qualification."
“When you come from the Pacific, we don’t have access to much funds, if anything. So, this gives us a great opportunity and helps us to hopefully compete at an international level.”
Through PacificAus Sports, the Australian government and the Australian Olympic Committee will support over 170 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from eleven Pacific nations to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Specifically, the partnership will support an estimated 150 Olympic athletes from the Pacific Island nations of Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu to secure a spot on their respective Olympic Games’ teams.
An additional twenty Paralympic athletes will represent Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands, PNG, Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.