14 Mar 2016

Sport: Taekwondo a perfect match for Tonga's Pita Taufatofua

12:22 pm on 14 March 2016

Tonga's Olympic-bound athlete Pita Taufatofua says there is something special about the sport of taekwondo.

The 32-year-old won gold in the over 80kg class at last month's Oceania Qualifying tournament to seal his place at the Rio Olympics.

It was the third time of trying for the Australian-based Tongan, who started learning taekwondo at the age of five and has been hooked ever since.

"There's something about taekwondo which is once it's in your blood it doesn't go anywhere. There's nowhere else in life I can experience the same challenge that taekwondo gives me: getting onto the mats; getting into the ring to fight somebody you don't hate and whose sole purpose is to kick you in the head and your purpose is to kick them in the head. The emotional set you go through going into that is something I fear everytime but something I don't experience anywhere else in life so it excites me being able to find those things which I fear and then walk towards them."

Pita Taufatofua said he believes he is capable of winning a medal in Rio later this year.

"One of the things I learnt from this whole experience is that the only way to succeed or achieve anything is to have absolute belief that you will. I have no doubt in my mind when I get on the mats I'm not going to leave anything behind and I have absolutely no dount that I will be in medal contention. As soon as I stop believing that there's no need for me to go to the Olympics."

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua celebrates qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua celebrates qualifying for the Rio Olympics. Photo: Pita Taufatofua / Paula Sitapa / Tonga Taekwondo Association