It may have escaped your attention with all the excitement and ceremony of the Olympics in Rio back in August; but a small island nation won its first Olympic medals ever.
That nation was Fiji and we didn’t just win medals – we won golds!
As all Fijians are aware by now, our Sevens Rugby team did the nation proud by beating Great Britain in the final of the tournament to bring home gold for Fiji!
Fiji has sent athletes to the Olympics since Melbourne in 1956, but we had never previously won a medal. So if you’re reading this from the U.S., where your nation hauled home a massive 47 gold medals, spare a little ripple of applause for us!
Wild celebrations – over the kava bowl
The victory in the final sparked wild celebrations in Fiji; or as wild as things can get when the kava bowl is in play!
As you know, kava has a relaxing and calming effect, but these qualities were put to the test after the final, in which Fiji hammered Great Britain 43-7.
It certainly was a proud and emotional moment for all Fijians, as the 12 squad members received their gold medals from Princess Anne in the stadium in Rio.
As the medals were presented to the team, some people were surprised to see each Fijian player kneeling on the podium, and clapping three times out of respect for the Princess. This is a gesture normally reserved for a kava ceremony, when it is traditional for Fijians to clap three times after drinking a shell of kava, as a sign of respect.
In the national stadium in Suva, thousands of Fijians gathered to watch the historic match and to cheer the boys on from the other side of the Pacific.
And how did Fijians celebrate the win?
According to Maori Television, the kava was flowing for former Fijian rugby captain Deacon Manu and many Fijians alike:
“The communities all around the world, the Fijian communities that I’ve touched base with, many around the world, and they’re all in full party mode and the kava is flowing like water at the moment to celebrate the victory.”
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama congratulated the team too, saying,
“A wonderful reception awaits our boys when they arrive back in Fiji. Never before has the Fijian spirit soared so high as it does today. Never have we stood so tall as a nation. So let us rededicate ourselves to the task of building our beloved Fiji. One nation, one people, playing an even greater role in the region and the world.”
Well done Fiji. We’re proud of you!