17th August 2016
History was made last Friday when Fiji's men's rugby sevens team stormed their way to victory and the country's first Olympic gold medal. Incredible scenes erupted both on the Olympic field and back home in the idyllic tropical island of Fiji when the nation practically came to a stop to watch the team take victory over Great Britain in what was also the first Olympic gold for any small Pacific nation.
There was a huge amount of pressure on the rugby sevens in the lead up to the Olympics with team captain Osea Kolinisau remarking that "people expect nothing but gold". Given it was the first time at the Olympics for the team, the men's rugby sevens carried the hopes of their nation heavily on their shoulders. Despite this pressure the team well and truly performed, thumping the opposition with a convincing 43-7 win.
The Fiji culture is a proud one and the men's rugby sevens didn't disappoint, dominating the gold medal final from the outset. Although perhaps they saved the best until last, with a spine-tingling moment on the field after the match which saw the players huddled on the field, tears streaming down their faces as they linked arms, looked skywards and sang. It's one of the most moving moments of the 2016 Rio Olympics so far.
Back home, villages and schools stopped normal operations and revellers took to the streets to celebrate the history-making win. They were dancing in the streets, singing and waving flags in the capital Suva where shops and banks had closed. Some people even stopped their cars on busy streets to join in the celebration, however no one seemed to care about the traffic jam.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama watched the exciting Rio final and released a statement congratulating the boys saying the win was a "wonderful moment in the history of our nation". Meanwhile, fans packed into Suva's ANZ National Stadium where 4000 supporters cheered the team to victory. As they say, the crowd went wild as the final whistle was blown.
Even the local phone company was getting in on the celebrations, offering their customers free calls until midnight to celebrate the fantastic effort of the players and coach. According to Google, Fiji was the number one trending topic in the world following the men's rugby sevens gold medal win.