Work and school was the last thing on anyone’s mind on Aug. 11, 2016, in Fiji. Instead of worrying about a sick day, they all watched the games in hopes of witnessing history.
Thousands gathered into the ANZ National Stadium in Suva. All the students from the Swami Vivekanand College in Nadi, got together, assembling themselves for the main event. As for the restaurants, bars, resorts, and the homes in the country? They were all packed and stuffed as everyone established their priority in being part of this history making event.
The event at hand was the Fiji vs. Great Britain final game at Rio. The gold medal that they never had a chance to celebrate was the main prize at stake.
The event? Fiji vs. Great Britain in the rugby sevens final at the Rio Olympics. At stake? Fiji’s first ever gold medal in Fiji’s most celebrated sport.
By the sound of the final whistle, the score board read 43-7 in favor of Fiji.
An earthquake of 900,000 people back in Fiji exploded into major celebration.
It was a sincere, uncensored, unstoppable joy.
Despite the many obstacles they had been facing, along with their domination in the sport, it was only right that this moment came to be.
Unlike the other teams, Fiji’s rugby team had been restricted due to their limited training facilities and the islands small budget. It had also dealt with tragedy due to tropical storms.
The aftermath of Cyclone Winston in February 2016. Photo by Feroz Khalil for Mai Life Magazine via Getty Images.
Back in February 2016, Fiji had experienced a setbaack as a category 5 cyclone ran through, taking about 40 lives and leaving many without a place to call home, including their own (two players). Despite this event, the team was dedicated and would attend training the following day.
“Rugby is like a religion in Fiji,” Elenoa Baselaia of the Fiji Times told CNN. “Whether it’s with paper scrunched together to make a ball, it’s with bottles or a real rugby ball, somebody in the neighborhoods is playing rugby.”
When August 11, came around, the Fijians gathered together to celebrate in stadiums, erupting into joy. Everywhere they gathered experienced the exact outburst as the people ran around with their flags carrying their sense of pride.
Among the celebrators you’d find the Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, declaring the day a public holiday.
“We’ve got celebrations programmed for when [the team] returns. We are all proud to be Fijians right now,” said Bainimarama.
Whether you know about FIji or not, moments like these remain a constant reminder of why we celebrate the Olympics.
Although Fiji started of the year on rather rough note, their moment in the light allowed them to create something different. #Rewordit!