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The Pacific nation of Fiji has erupted
with wild celebrations and announced a
nationwide public holiday after winning
its first Olympic medal – a gold – in the
men ’ s rugby sevens .
The thumping 43- 7 victory over Britain in
the final prompted impromptu
celebrations across the island nation as
drivers leapt out of their cars and people
took to the streets to wave the national
In other responses in the rugby – obsessed
nation : phone carriers offered free calls ;
Fiji Airways, the national carrier,
announced the only beer it will serve on
Friday will be Fiji Gold , a popular local
beverage ; and the government declared
August 22 a national holiday to mark the
Some fans said Ben Ryan , the team ’s
London – born coach , and his family
should be given citizenship.
According to ‘ The Fiji Times ’, staff at the
main hospital reported that “ patients
used their crutches or wheelchairs to get
to the television to ensure they do not
miss history in the making ” .
Frank Bainimarama, a former coup
leader who was elected prime minister ,
thanked the Olympic officials for
including the sport in the competition for
the first time.
“ We can showcase little country like us
who don ’t have the financial backing like
the other countries have , but we
managed to beat them ,” he said .
“ It’ s a wonderful feeling to be Fijian right
now wherever you are in the world ,
especially those back home .”
The final game brought the nation of
900 ,000 people to a standstill , with shops
and schools closing and more than 4 ,000
people watching the game live at the
main stadium in the capital , reports ‘The
Telegraph ’ .
Fiji ’ s small neighbours said they too will
celebrate the “ magnificent and emphatic
victory by a Pacific nation on the world
stage ” .
“ Pacific Island nations may have the
smallest teams competing in Rio , but Fiji
has today proven they are mighty ,” said
Colin Tukuitonga, director – general of the
Pacific Community .