TAIPEI (CNA) — A Norwegian triathlete has said he will consider visiting Changhua County next year after becoming an overnight sensation in Taiwan, when photos of him wearing a cap bearing the name of a local temple appeared in the international media earlier this month, the county government said Monday.
The 23-year-old Gustav Iden won the 2019 Half Ironman 70.3-kilometer World Championship held in Nice France, finishing the race in 3:52:35 and earning US$45,000 for his first major victory.
However, what made Iden a hit with Taiwan netizens was the fact that he crossed the finish line, wearing a cap decorated with the five traditional Chinese characters “Puyan Shun Tse Kung,” referring to the Taoist Shun Tse Temple located in central Changhua County’s Puyan Township.
Iden previously told local media that he found the cap in the Japanese countryside earlier this year. Feeling that it “looked cool” he started to wear it despite not knowing where it came from until learning of his unexpected fame in Taiwan.
Ever since, many people in Taiwan have left messages on Iden’s social media inviting him to the country, one of whom was Changhua Magistrate Wang Hui-mei (王惠美).
A county government press release said Monday that in her message, Wang invited the triathlete to visit Changhua to attend an upcoming series of seven marathons to be held in the county from October to December.
Wang also said that as a guest of the local government Iden would be introduced to local cuisine and hospitality should he visit.
Iden said in a reply to Wang that he would love to visit Taiwan but cannot do so until after the Tokyo Olympic in summer 2020, due to his tight training schedule.
“My schedule is sadly very busy so there is not any time to travel to Taiwan now. But I really want to go to pay my visit to the temple on my way back to Norway from the Tokyo Olympics next year. That would have been an amazing experience,” Iden said in his message to Wang, according to the county government.
In response, Wang wished the Norwegian all the best at next year’s Olympic games and promised to arrange an “unforgettable trip” for the athlete should he visit Changhua later next year, the county government said.
The Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
Meanwhile, the temple in Changhua County said it has been inundated with about 40,000 orders for the cap, which it is believed brought good luck to Iden earlier this month, and it is trying hard to meet demand.
(By Hsiao Po-yang and Joseph Yeh)