Rio roundup: Tonga’s athletes give their best while Fonua kicks up an internet storm

Tonga’s athletes have not won any medals so far at the Rio Olympics, but they have continued to dominate the news outside the stadium.

Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua launched a ferocious attack on The Daily Beast website after it outed a number of Olympians for using the Grinder app, which is designed to help gay people find partners.

Fonua, who is openly gay, made a serious of scathing attacks on the website, which eventually took the story down.

“As an out gay athlete from a country that is still very homophobic, @thedailybeast ought to be ashamed,” Fonua tweeted.

“You disgust me. Do you realize how many people’s lives you just ruined without any good reason but clickbait journalism?

“It is still illegal to be gay in Tonga, and while I’m strong enough to be me in front of the world, not everybody else is. Respect that.

Take the article down immediately.”

Meanwhile, Britain’s Independent newspaper reported this week that the Tongan government is hoping for a tourism boom following Tongan flagbearer Pita Taufatofua’s well publicised appearance in the opening ceremony.

It quoted Tourism Tonga spokeswoman Seini Taumoepeau as saying there had been increased online interest in the kingdom, with thousands of people looking at a holiday website and visiting Tonga’s Facebook page.

Thousands more have been clicking on a website promoting Tongan holidays and hundreds more have visited the nation’s Facebook page.

Competition

In the actual competition, Tonga’s athletes have continued to give their best against world class competition.

Swimmer Irene Prescott finished fifth in her heat for the women’s 50m freestyle. Prescott, who previously competed at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow,  ranked 61st after today’s event.

Taina Halasima competed in the 100 metres athletics competition today, coming 15th with a time of 12.8 seconds. This put her behind two other Pacific competitors, Patricia Taea of the Cook Islands (12.3 seconds) and Fijian Sisilia Seavula (12.34).

Irene’s time of  28.68 seconds placed her 61st out of 88 swimmers Lusitania Tatafu was put up against South Korea’s Chang Hye-Jin on Wednesday in the women’s individual archery.

Chang Hye-Jin went on to win the gold medal, while Tatafu went on to join a list of more than 30 athletes ranked 33rd.

Still to come from the Tongan team are Siueni Filimone, who is set run in the men’s 100 metres tomorrow (Sunday, August 14) and Pita Taufatofua, scheduled to compete in the men’s over 80 kg taekwondo on Sunday, August 21.

Valerie Adams

Meanwhile, New Zealand Olympian Valerie Adams, who has very strong ties to Tonga,  took silver at the women’s shotput final after an unexpected toss by American Michelle Carter took the gold everybody thought she would win.

Adams, who competes for New Zealand, was visibly stunned by the outcome, but remained philosophical.

“I am OK,” she told a television interview.

“It would have been nice to win, but that’s sport. I fought to the very end. It is my third Olympic medal and I’ve got to take it and run.”

“It was my best throw in two years. It’s bittersweet. A gold would have been great, because that was my goal. But this is the reality of sport and we’ve got to celebrate it.”

Adams had previously won two gold medals in three Olympics. She has also competed four times in the Commonwealth Games, where she has won three gold and one silver.

And finally

And finally, ‘The King of Tonga,’ who gives his address as Brighton in the United Kingdom, has posted a decree declaring this to be national hug a Fijian day. We suspect this may not actually be His Majesty, since his twitter page says “Not actually the King of Tonga. Up the Arsenal.” Still, hugging a Fijian is not a bad thing since they won the Rugby Sevens gold medal.

The main points

  • Tonga’s athletes have not won any medals so far at the Rio Olympics, but they have continued to dominate the news outside the stadium.
  • Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua launched a ferocious attack on The Daily Beast website after it outed a number of Olympians for using the Grinder app, which is designed to help gay people find partners.
  • Meanwhile, Britain’s Independent newspaper reported this week that the Tongan government is hoping for a tourism boom following Tongan flagbearer Pita Taufatofua’s well publicised appearance in the opening ceremony.
  • In the actual competition, Tonga’s athletes have continued to give their best against world class competition.

For more information

Gay Olympian Amini Fonua reacts to story on Rio’s Grindr users In a Twitter smackdown

American Michelle Carter stuns Valerie Adams to snatch shot put gold

Tonga hoping for tourism surge from oily athlete (The Independent)

Fiji fans celebrate winning rugby sevens gold medal (BBC)

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