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Tongan athlete ready to grab his second chance at making Olympics

Natasha Hill

A Tongan Judo player is confident he will make next year's Paris Olympics

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

An Australian army private is on track to represent Tonga at the Paris Olympicgames next year.

Fe'ao Faka'osi is currently serving in the Australian army but is planning to represent Tonga in Judo.

Faka’osi says he has been nominated to represent Tonga, however, he will still need to bepicked based on his performance leading up to selection.

“I’ve got the chance. I just need to [be judged] performance-wise.”

It was mainly due to a dislocated shoulder that the soldier missed out on competing in the 2012 London Olympics.

However, he says he is confident that he will be competing in next year’s games to be held in Paris, France.

“I’m really grateful to get the chance to represent my home country… I’ve been doing this sport since I was 13.”

Growing up, the sport was introduced to Faka’osi and his brothers by their Australian-Tongan friends.

He says his older brothers went on to participate in an Oceania competition representing Tonga.

“There were a few friends of ours, Australian Tongan. And they were the ones who did the sport back in the day and they introduced the sport to us.”

His brothers retired from the sport after the competition, leaving Faka’osi to continue the sport.

“There’s not many of us that are doing the sport and I’m pretty sure there are a few of us back in Tonga that will still carry the sport on.”

Another Judo player who has represented Tonga at the 2004 Olympics is Tongan flag bearer, Pita Tofua, who is also preparing to compete next year.

Tofua participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics in Taekwondo, the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier and again at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in 2021) in Taekwondo. But at this upcoming Olympics he is aiming to qualify in sprint kayaking as well as Taekwondo.

The Paris Olympics will take place from 26 July to 11 August next year.

Hero Image: Tongan Judo player, Fe'ao Faka'osi is planning to compete in the Paris Olympics next year. Photo/supplied/Australian Defence Force

Image 2: A judo demonstration between Faka'osi and Lieutenant Colonel Morgan McCarthy of the Australian Defence Force. Photo/supplied/Australian Defence Force

Image 3: Faka'osi winning gold for the Veteran Men under 90 kg division in Melbourne. Photo/supplied/Australian Defence Force

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