Tokyo 2020: Tonga's Pita Taufatofua misses out on Olympic qualification

Pita Taufatofua
Pita Taufatofua is widely known for appearing at the summer Olympics in Rio and winter Olympics in Pyeongchang bare-chested

Tongan Pita Taufatofua has promised to fight on despite failing to achieve an Olympic sprint kayak place at the Oceanic Tokyo 2020 qualifier in Sydney.

The 36-year-old is bidding to become the first man in the modern era to qualify for three Olympics in three different sports.

But he was hampered by a broken rib and muscle damage from a training accident as he finished eighth in his heat.

"I went for it with all I had and fell short this time," he told BBC Sport.

"I felt my rib go on the second stroke and although I tried blocking out the pain I just couldn't catch the guy, but I love the sport of kayak and I'll be back as soon as I can walk straight."

Taufatofua competed in taekwondo at Rio 2016 and in cross-country skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

He received worldwide fame after entering both Games' opening ceremonies in traditional dress, bare-chested and covered in coconut oil as Tonga's flag-bearer.

The Tongan needed to win the K1 200m event at the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships, and although he recorded a time of 49.97 seconds - over eight seconds quicker than at last year's World Championships - he failed to progress.

Taufatofua will have a final opportunity to qualify for this summer's Games in the sport at the second World Cup event of the season in Duisburg, Germany, in late May.

However, in just two weeks time he will return to his original sport of taekwondo and attempt to secure a place at Tokyo 2020 in that sport via their continental qualifier on Australia's Gold Coast.

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