Bruno Banani: The luger, gimmick

February 9, 2014, 7:09 AM

— -- KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- As the sled flew down the track Saturday night, the woman couldn't control herself. Stuffed into a puffy red coat, she jumped up and down. She held a red flag high above her head. And at the top of her lungs, she screamed.

"Go, Bruno!" she yelled.

"Go, Tonga!"

"Go, Tonga!"

The woman was the official spokesperson for the royal family of Tonga, the tiny country of 176 islands in the South Pacific. She was here as part of the delegation to support the country's first winter Olympian, Bruno Banani. It was this dream, with Banani soaring along the track at the Sanki Sliding Center, that her and her employers had waited five years to see come true.

But the mind-boggling tale of how it actually came to be is a story you unquestionably haven't heard before. Unless you already know the one about the introverted, quiet Tongan man who changed his name to a German underwear company in hopes of making the Olympics.