Taipei, Sept. 9 (CNA) A Taoist temple in central Taiwan has become famous on the Internet after a Norwegian athlete was seen wearing a cap bearing the temple's name when he won a triathlon in France Sunday.
Gustav Iden, a 23-year-old, won the 2019 Ironman 70.3-kilometer World Championship held in Nice, France, finishing the race with a 3:52:35 record and earning US$45,000 in his first major victory.
What made him famous among Taiwanese netizens, however, was that when he crossed the finish line, the triathlete was wearing a cap with five traditional Chinese characters "Puyan Shun Tse Kung" on it.
The characters refer to a Taoist Shun Tse Temple located in central Changhua County's Puyan Township.
While the photo of the behatted Iden raising his championship banner circulated on social media and regular media in Taiwan, the question was raised about how and where he got the cap.
An earlier report citing netizens familiar with the athlete said that Iden found the cap not in Taiwan but in Japan when he previously participated in a race in Tokyo.
For some reason, Iden believed that keeping good care of that particular cap would bring him good luck in future races, and he ultimately won the Nice race, according to netizens.
The question had its answer when Fox Sports Taiwan anchor Ili How (侯以理) asked Iden about it via online messaging and told him that the cap was from a temple, which, according to her, has become a "Mecca for Taiwanese triathletes."
How posted Iden's answer on her Facebook page later Monday.
"The truth is I just found the cap on the ground in Japan before the Olympic test event earlier this year. Just thought it looked cool, so I cleaned it up and started to use it," Iden replied.
He wrote that his Japanese friends did not know what the words on the cap read, but said it was possibly from Taiwan. "It has been kind of a mystery what it says, but now I finally know."
Whether the cap served as a good luck charm to the Norwegian's victory is debatable, but apparently, many Taiwanese are buying the story, as Changhua temple officials said they have seen high demand for their caps since Iden's victory.
The temple's head manager, Chen Shou-chin (陳守欽), told CNA Monday that they had received numerous phone calls and inquiries about how to get a hold of the caps since Iden's victory.
The temple originally made 500 caps this year but all of them were given away to worshipers for free, he said.
He found it amusing that the athlete found the cap in Tokyo, saying that the cap was maybe left behind by one of the temple worshipers during a trip to Tokyo.