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Fiji rugby sevens team win gold at the Rio Olympics 2016.
Reuters/Phil Noble
Winners.
GOLDEN BOYS

A tiny island of just 900,000 people has won its first ever Olympic medal—and it’s a gold!

An island nation in the South Pacific has made history. Fiji beat Great Britain 43-7 in the rugby sevens final in Rio on Thursday (Aug. 11). In so doing, it won its first ever Olympic medal: gold.

“I never dreamed of being an Olympian, let alone being a medalist, let alone being a gold medalist,” the team’s captain Osea Kolinisau said in a press conference.

The sport has been compared to something of a religion in the country, where 10% of the population play rugby, according to the Fijian tourist board. Fiji has won the Hong Kong Sevens, considered the foremost tournament in the game, a record 16 times.

“It’s something that binds villages together. Everyone plays a random form of sevens in the villages before school and after work,” the national coach, Ben Ryan—himself a Brit—told the BBC in May.

Thousands watched the momentous match on screens in the national stadium in the capital, Suva, as well as on TV screens in local banks, markets and beauty parlors, the Guardian reports. Banks were shut, jubilant fans celebrated in the streets, and traffic was stalled with motorists jumping out of their cars to join the festivities, according to the Fiji Times.

To top it all off, prime minister Frank Bainimaram said there would be a national holiday on Aug. 22 to celebrate the historic win. “Our productivity has been nil in the last couple of days, but hopefully the GDP will go up in the next couple of weeks,” he told the Guardian.

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