You may now know him as the 'glistening, muscle-hunk flag-bearer from Tonga', but before Pita boarded the plane to Rio, he gave us the 411 on what was helping him prep for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Pita Taufatoafua is the first athlete from Tonga to compete in the Olympics in Taekwondo, and he reveals its more than just training that’s getting him there. Pita explains how his positive mindset, love of giving back, and dedication to a strict diet and exercise regime has enabled him to smash his goals in 2016. We sat down with him and here's what he had to say...
What first influenced you to start Taekwondo?
A few years into my training, I watched the first Tongan boxer compete in the 1996 Olympics and take home a silver medal. When he came home the whole community came together as he came through the streets and when we made eye contact I thought ‘that’s going to be me one day… I don’t know when, but it is going to happen’.
What are your three biggest accomplishments in Taekwondo?
- Having the opportunity to participate in the Olympics.
- I had lunch with the President of World Taekwondo Federation in Seoul, Korea.
- Using my achievements as a platform to give back to kids and teenagers across the world. Being able to provide people with my support and wisdom I have learnt over the years.
What were some of the challenges you had to rise above becoming the first athlete from Tonga to complete in the Olympics in Taekwondo?
Finances were a big challenge for me… I was studying a Bachelor of Engineering full time at UQ, training full time, and also working full time all at once. As I chose to represent Tonga, a developing country, my Olympic endeavours were completely self-funded. Another challenge I faced was injuries, it is a price to pay being an athlete and it is a cost I would pay again if I had to if it meant I would end up where I am today. I spent three months in a wheel chair, a year and a half on crutches and I have had about six to seven broken bones. Not only was it a physical challenge but also a mental one to keep pushing myself and pursuing my goals.
What are your main goals for 2016?
Going into Rio I have two goals:
- Win the gold medal.
- Use my platform to bring awareness about the Pacific including Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa etc. We are all in this together I’ll be representing us through sportsmanship and flag bearing.
Can you tell us what your current training regime is like?
I train three times a day, and eat six times a day. I recently just got back from Thailand in which I was training 36 hours a week. I start with my goal and work backwards, working on my weaknesses to plug the holes and magnify my strengths. Sport is physical but it is spiritual and mental first and foremost; your body is always going to follow your mind. This next month is ensuring my body is running at 100% through diet and exercise, and that my mindset is also on point.
You said you eat six times a day… What did food prep look like for you before Youfoodz?
It was hard. The sheer number of meals and ensuring my macro ratios were correct was difficult and maintaining clean calories was problematic. I tried the Sunday evening meal preps but full time training and work made it too difficult for me to maintain. I even tried hiring someone to cook for me! That’s when I came across Youfoodz. The positivity and customer reviews surrounding the company really drew me in. The fact that the meals are fresh was why I fell in love with the meals... because frozen meals are a pain in the ass.
How does Youfoodz fit into your lifestyle?
My life is so much easier now. I have just gotten back from travelling and I rolled over my previous order so I get the same great meals that match with my current strict meal plan.
What are your favourite Youfoodz Meals?
Right now I have to be strict with my diet, but it doesn’t feel like it as I am really enjoying the Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Pesto Pumpkin Chicken Salad, the Karaage Chicken and Asian Slaw… and also the Chocolate Protein Brownie.
What was the best advice you have ever received? What would you pass onto anyone else chasing a dream?
- Don’t give up – I find people give up way too easily and you have to learn to exercise the muscle of resilience. By not taking on the negative things that other people say instead turning that into fuel for motivation to achieve your goals.
- When I went to the National Student Leadership Forum in Canberra one of the CEO’s of BHP Billiton said to me “God or the Universe will give you anything you ask for as long as you’re willing to give it all back.” It was a few years later that I really understood what it meant. I think it is the secret to happiness that you can have anything you ask for as long as you pay it forward. If you are ever lacking something in life stop and think ‘okay what have I given back’ and if its not much that’s where your problem is.
What does the future hold for you?
I plan on using the Olympics as a vehicle and a platform; I am all about positive thinking. I have created an environment in my head that only lets certain things in and I want to be able to help other people do this too. For the last twelve years I have been aiding in counselling people working with Brisbane Youth Services and in the future I plan on taking this to the next level. Using my platform to influence and help people achieve their goals through the power of positive thinking.
We wish Pita all the best in Rio!