Fiji makes history, secures first ever gold medal

Emily McLanahan
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It took 60 years, but Fiji finally earned an Olympic medal.

The Fiji rugby sevens team took the gold medal on Thursday, defeating Great Britain, a notable and successful rugby club, 43-7. It is the first medal ever for the country of Fiji.

Known mainly for their vacation spots no more, the country has made a name for itself as the best rugby sevens team in the world. (It should be noted that rugby is the country’s national sport.)

Ironic isn’t it, considering Fiji used to be colonized by Great Britain? Here we are 46 years after the country gained independence in 1970, and Fiji defeated its former parent, taking the gold and making history.

Fiji's Leone Nakarawa celebrates scoring a try in the men's rugby sevens gold medal match. (AFP)
Fiji’s Leone Nakarawa celebrates scoring a try in the men’s rugby sevens gold medal match. (AFP)

The country has a population under 900,000 and it only took seven athletes to seal the deal. Impressive.

Fiji made its Olympic debut in 1956. Prior to this Olympics, only two Fijian athletes have ever qualified for a Games via Olympic standards and none ever reached a final.

Until Thursday.

A 20-5 win over Japan secured Fiji’s spot in the championship match.

Fiji is also the World Rugby Sevens Series champion and have two Rugby World Cup Sevens championships under their belts.