26 Dec 2013

Tongan luger qualifies for Winter Olympics

11:32 am on 26 December 2013

Tonga's Bruno Banani has qualified as the Pacific nation's first winter Olympian, the International Luge Federation in an achievement every bit as remarkable as Jamaica's famous bobsled team.

Banani will go to Sochi next year after finishing 28th out of 42 starters at a World Cup event in Utah, comfortably making the top 38 cut-off needed to qualify.

Banani had an unlikely introduction to the activity when he was plucked from obscurity in 2008 and coaxed into taking up luge as part of a guerilla marketing campaign.

A marketing company persuaded him to change his name to Bruno Banani, which is the name of a German underwear manufacturer, and he become part of the luge circuit as a publicity stunt.

The FIL says the issue of what name Banani uses at Sochi is in the hands of the IOC.