Rio 2016 Olympics: Rugby 7 gives Fiji 1st Olympic gold medal

By @vitthernandez on
Fiji vs Great Britain
2016 Rio Olympics - Rugby - Men's Gold Medal Match - Fiji v Great Britain - Deodoro Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 11/08/2016. Osea Kolinisau (FIJ) of Fiji evades Tom Mitchell (GBR) of Great Britain to score a try. Reuters

A week ago, the world noticed the oily flagbearer of the Fiji delegation at the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympics, and sparked interest in the tiny island-nation in the Pacific. On Thursday, Pita Nikolas Taufatofua’s country stood proud as it received its first Olympic gold medal.

The medal was won by the Fiji rugby seven squad at the expense of Great Britain, with a massive lead given the final score of 43-7, reports USA Today. The Brits were overwhelmed by the Fijians’ size and speed, failing to bring down any player with a clean tackle.

The rugby team, led by 240-pound Leone Nakarawa and 240-pound Semi Kunatani, actually entered the Olympics as heavy favorites. Seven of their players scored tries in the game, while it was only Dan Norton for Great Britain which got the silver medal, while the bronze went to South Africa.

Rugby 7 Squad of Fiji 2016 Rio Olympics - Rugby - Men's Victory Ceremony - Deodoro Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 11/08/2016. Team Fiji pose for photos with their gold medals.  Reuters/Phil Noble

Even while the game was being broadcast, life stood almost at a standstill at the tiny Pacific island with a population of about 800,000 people hooked on the match despite the game lopsided in Fiji’s favour. The staff of Westpac on Mark’s Street posted an advisory that the bank branch would temporarily close for 30 minutes for the staff to take a break during Fiji’s match against Great Britain. The bank’s excuse is that “Fiji is about to create history.”

When the referee blew the final whistle to indicate the end of the game, Fijians danced on the street, hang flags from building and celebrated its first gold medal 60 years after trying at various Olympic events over the years since Melbourne hosted the Summer Games in 1956.

VIDEO: Fiji Rugby’s Rio Olympic Dream

Source: World Rugby