Editorial comment – Reaching out for the stars

The Fiji 7s team celebrate their gold medal victory at the 2016 Olympics. Picture: SUPPLIED/FT FILE

YOU couldn’t miss the look of determination on the face of former national sevens rugby skipper Osea Kolinisau.

It was this month back in 2016.

It was the 12th to be exact.

That look of confidence was etched on the national skipper’s face as Kolinisau led Fiji on to the Deodoro Stadium in Rio for the final of the Olympic Games sevens rugby competition.

There was steely determination.

The television screens beamed across a slight twitch on the side of his lips, somehow appearing to shape the beginning of a smile.

Kolinisau exuded confidence.

He was calm.

He looked fit.

There was a glow in his eyes.

In fact you could see it in every member of the team as the camera zoomed in on them.

They were finally living their dreams.

At the end of a three-year run with coach Ben Ryan, they were poised for a leap into the annals of global sporting history.

Never before had Fiji been pushed on to such a stage where the global figures for television audience could reach dizzying heights.

We had won World Cups in the abbreviated version of the sport.

Fresh off back-to-back title victories in World Rugby’s Sevens Series, we had experienced the highs in the sport, and there were also lows over the years leading up to Rio, when we hit rock bottom.

But the Olympic Games was definitely different.

It had to be the premier sporting event on the planet.

It continues to embrace the attention of billions of people around the globe.

Leading up to the games, American broadcasting giant NBC for instance, had pulled in figures during the London Games as a target for Rio.

London’s overall viewership of 31 million was a target it felt could be attained in Brazil.

The numbers were staggering for a nation such as Fiji, a dot on the world map. We had the opportunity to display our brand of sevens rugby.

We had an opportunity to showcase the flair, amazing skills and the excitement of Fijian sevens rugby. We gave that to the world.

There can be no doubts about the positive impact of Fiji’s gold medal victory over Great Britain that day.

Sadly though sceptics will continue to wonder whether we effectively captured the impact of that victory and turned it into a financial gain for our sevens game.

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Ryan and the team gave us invaluable exposure, taking Fiji to parts of the globe our tourism marketing budget may never reach.

Thousands of people around the world had never seen sevens rugby played with such intensity, skill, enjoyment and passion. Our team showed respect for status and religion, and showed humility.

This month in 2016 went by like a breeze, with thousands of Fijians proudly proclaiming we were Olympic Games gold medallists.

We were on top of the world!

As we gear up for the Rugby World Cup in Japan next month, and participate in various sporting events around the country this week, perhaps this should be an apt reminder that hard work can reap benefits on the highest possible pedestal.

We have to believe we can be the best, but we have to give whatever we are tasked to do our one hundred per cent effort.

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