Sochi 2014: Luge hopeful qualifies as Tonga's first winter Olympian
WELLINGTON (AFP) - Tonga's Bruno Banani has qualified as the Pacific nation's first winter Olympian, the International Luge Federation (FIL) said on Tuesday, in an achievement every bit as remarkable as Jamaica's famous bob-sleigh team.
Banani, who hails from a tropical archipelago famed for its sunshine and white sandy beaches, will head for the frigid Russian resort of Sochi next year after finishing 28th out of 42 starters at a World Cup meet in Park City, Utah, comfortably making the top 38 cut-off needed to qualify, the FIL said.
"The athlete from Tonga has achieved all the qualification rules," the federation told AFP in a statement.
The luge, where competitors lie supine on a sleigh and barrel down an icy ditch at speeds of up to 140kmh, is virtually unknown in Tonga where the mean annual temperature ranges from 23 to 28 deg C.