Kenyan-born Samoan sends tongues wagging at Winter Olympics

Crumpton has lived in Kenya and Tanzania

The 36-year-old representing American Samoa is an author, model, photographer and Princeton alumnus who is vying for one of two open spots on the IOC’s athletes’ commission.

Kenya is currently not participating in the Winter Olympics in China, however, an American-Samoan athlete with Kenyan roots has shone a spotlight on the East African nation once again.

On Friday February 4, Nathan Ikon Crumpton became an internet sensation when he appeared shirtless as he strolled into the National Stadium in Beijing, the temperature reading for the city at the time was a staggering -4 degrees Celsius.

The 36-year-old was born in Kenya to a father working for the United States Foreign Service. He is a skeleton racer and the sole representative for American Samoa, a small United States territory with less than 55,000 people.

Rubbed down with baby oil by his team 'for that high-gloss shine', Crumpton wore a tapa cloth made from mulberry bark; a pale fuiono headpiece adorned with nautilus shells; a feathered kiki fulumoa around his waist, and armbands fashioned out of a wild boar’s tusk.

"It was surprisingly not that cold," said the US territory's first Winter Olympic representative in 28 years, speaking after the start of the men's skeleton event on Thursday, where he sits at the 20th spot.

"The only thing that got cold was my hands, just because the flagpole was metal," he said, "It was a fun thing to do and I'm happy that it went off without a hitch."

The Princeton University graduate followed in the tradition of Tongan Summer and Winter Olympian Pita Taufatofua, who appeared shirtless during ceremonies in 2016, 2018, and last year in Tokyo.

Crumpton also competed at the Tokyo Olympics, held last summer due to the Covid-19 disruption, coming last in his qualifying heat of the 100 metres but recording a personal best time.

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