Rio 2016: First ever Olympic Gold for Fiji – team gives the glory to God

The Fijian players pray while their national anthem is playedReuters
Fiji Captian Osea Kolinisau scores the first try in the Olympic Rugby Sevens finalReuters

"First of all, I thank the Lord, he has been our source of strength... We reminded each other how God had taken us through the last two years and that the same God that we serve is here with us in Rio."

That's what the Olympic Rugby Sevens winners told the media when asked the reason for their success.

The island nation of Fiji has won its first ever Olympic medal – a gold – but while fans hailed one of the great Olympic achievements, the players have given the glory to God.

Rugby Sevens became an Olympic event this year for the first time. Though Fiji are ranked number one in the world, the country had never won a medal at any event before so the pressure was on.

The team came through that pressure to win the tournament – defeating Great Britain 43-7 in the final – and dominating far bigger countries such as New Zealand.

The players dropped to their knees and prayed upon the outcome of the match. Many pointed to the sky before joining in wild celebrations.


Captain Osea Kolinisau, who scored the first try of the final, said, "I told the boys: 'God called us to do this. He chose us and when he chose us he justified us and brought us glory today. Go crazy, go nuts, you deserve this.'" The Fijian Prime Minister was among the crowds in the stadium to see the team win gold.

Christian Today spoke to Fiji's 15-a-side squad during the Rugby World Cup in England last year. Fijian coach John McKee told us the team's deep unity comes from their shared faith. "Every afternoon after our training session we pray as part of our training and preparation... The Christian faith is very strong in Fijian society," McKee explained.

"That reflects in the team environment. It is part of the players' way of life. Daily they all have a prayer session which can double up as a team meeting. It is an important devotion for the players."


The Fijian team is expected to be given a heroes' welcome upon its return to the Pacific nation, which consists of more than 300 islands, has a population less than a million people and where rugby is the national sport. Around two thirds of Fijians are Christians.