Tonga's famous flag bearer Pita Taufatofua achieves his 'impossible dream'

Updated 1429 GMT (2229 HKT) February 9, 2018

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(CNN)Walking out into Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium, his bare, muscular torso glistening with a generous amount of oil, Pita Taufatofua's life changed in an instant.

Carrying Tonga's flag at the 2016 Olympic Games opening ceremony, wearing little more than a traditional Tongan mat around his waist, Taufatofua gained immediate fame -- and plenty of admirers.
It's fair to say his life hasn't been quite the same since.
But of the millions watching around the world, few had any idea of the sacrifice and determination behind Taufatofua's dream of becoming an Olympic athlete.
"It's quite funny because that moment was a really big thing, but it was 20 years of hard work behind that moment just to actually get there," Taufatofua told CNN ahead of the start of the Winter Olympics.