After claiming its first Olympic medal after 60 years competing, all of Fiji erupts in joy

The Pacific nation took the top prize in the Men's Rugby Sevens, with the entire country celebrating the moment

Fiji, Rio 2016, Olympics, Rugby Sevens

Viliame Mata, of Fiji, poses with fans after winning the gold medal match against Britain in the mens rugby sevens at the 2016 Summer Olympics [AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty]

With all the excitement and patriotism felt today for the Irish in Rio, what with Cork’s the O’Donovan brothers claiming silver – and Ireland’s first ever medal – in the rowing events, take a moment to share the joy of the Pacific nation of Fiji. Having fielded a team at every Summer Olympics (bar the 1964 and 1980 games), the country of 900,000 people won its first ever medal, in style, taking the gold in the men’s rugby sevens. And the country is going wild.

Defeating their former colonialists Great Britain in the final, the Fijian men dominated the entire game, claiming gold by a score of 43-7. The country was at a standstill throughout the 80-minute game, with businesses shutting down so employees could see the historic moment.

When the referee blew the final whistle, Fijians everywhere were understandably ecstatic, dancing in the streets, waving flags, and collectively celebrating the joy felt by a nation that has finally won a medal 60 years after first trying.

Fiji also claimed a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics in London, when Iliesa Delana took the top prize in the high jump. He is now a member of parliament and a cabinet minister. In 2013, Delana's image was minted on the Fijian 50c coin in honour of his achievement.

[Reserve Bank of Fiji]

Around the world, viewers were also struck by the tribute made by the Fijian rugby sevens players to their success. Linking arms in a circle, singing a traditional hymn while tears of joy rolled from their eyes. The song, E Da Sa Qaqa (translated as We are Winners because of this World), is often performed by the players during training and competition.

Sixty years in the making, they don't get much better than that. 

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