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AP Photo/Themba Hadebe
To say they are overjoyed in Fiji over the nation's first Olympic gold medal is an understatement.
Fiji's government has not only declared a national holiday for Aug. 22 _ the day that the Olympic champion rugby team returns home _ but issued a statement Friday through the office of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama stressing how much it means to the nation as a whole.
The statement, in its entirety, reads as follows:
"This is a wonderful moment in the history of our nation. We have won our first Gold Medal at a summer Olympic Games and every Fijian is rejoicing at home and around the world.
We all convey our warmest congratulations to our World Champion Rugby Sevens team on this magnificent achievement. We have all witnessed how much effort you have put into this campaign. And we salute you both for your victory and for being wonderful ambassadors for Fiji.
I especially want to thank coach Ben Ryan and team captain Osea Kolinisau for their inspiring leadership. It has been a great privilege for me as Prime Minister to be present in Rio De Janeiro on behalf of the Fijian people to provide our collective encouragement and support. I have witnessed at first hand the commitment and discipline that has produced this victory and have been deeply impressed and proud.
A wonderful reception awaits our boys when they arrive back in Fiji. Never before has the Fijian spirit soared so high as it does today. Never have we stood so tall as a nation. So let us rededicate ourselves to the task of building our beloved Fiji. One nation, one people, playing an even greater role in the region and the world.
The march of Team Fiji _ of every Fijian _ continues."
Fiji rolled past Britain 43-7 in the gold-medal match. Rugby was back in the Olympics for the first time since 1924, and was played in the condensed seven-a-side format rather than the traditional 15s.