As Fiji made history by winning the country's first ever Olympic medal with gold in the men's sevens competition, the country's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama spelt out what the 43-7 defeat of Great Britain means to the island nation.


"It's an awesome feeling to be a Fijian right now," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. 

"They played some awesome rugby. The coach and the players have worked at this day for months and they've done it. Nobody is at work, universities have been given time off and the Pacific Island Forum meeting has been postponed.

"Nobody has been at work for the last few days and we're looking at putting a celebration together. Ben Ryan is an icon back home. We were an average team before he came in and he lifted the level. Everybody loves Ben."

Fiji captain Osea Kolinisau, scorer of the first try of the gold medal match, was on his knees when the final whistle confirmed his team as Olympic champions.

“I was just thankful to the Lord for blessing us and giving us an opportunity to win in a mega sports arene like the Olympics.

“I never dreamt of being an Olympian, never mind a medallist, never mind a gold medallist."

Coach Ben Ryan felt that he was the lucky one.

"I feel very lucky that I’m in charge of a bunch of athletes with a country behind us that are so passionate about rugby sevens.

“I certainly wouldn’t have had the success we had without Osea Kolinisau and the rest of the guys. I’m a small part of all of this. We’ve had a bit of luck on our way, I think you need that, South Africa have been so close to winning the series and Team GB had a stellar tournament.

“I try to explain to people what this means to people – the boys are front and back page news back in Fiji. They are superstars. It’s a passion, it’s a national sport. The party will be across the nation, across 355 islands. It’s the nation's team."

Team GB captain Tom Mitchell, wearing his silver medal, admitted the better team had won.

“It’s not the first time I’ve been at the end of a loss like that to Fiji. When these guys are on fire it’s very hard to know what to do. You look for solutions out there on the pitch, and we didn’t do too much wrong, but they are an unbelievably talented group of guys, and they’ve shown their pedigree on the world stage."

South Africa's bronze medal-winning captain Kyle Brown said that despite the disappointment of not being in the hunt for gold, his team have a lot to be thankful for.

"It's important to realise where we are and to know that to be part of the journey of having rugby in the Olympics is really something special. 

"It's a heck of a moment. It's an enormous stage to be on. It's fine margins and it's about keeping fans on the edge of their seats and keeping things exciting." 

France's Damien Cler spoke to the media after their win against Australia in the seventh place play-off, his last game with Les Bleus.

"To finish on a good note gives us heart. The defeat yesterday against the Japanese was very complicated. Against New Zealand, it was hard because we know that to beat them we must be 100 per cent and we were not. We managed to put all that was left us into beating Australia ... we would have preferred to leave with a medal, but you leave with a final victory."

The disappointment was evident on the face of Australia's Cameron Clark after they finished the Games on a losing note. 

“We’re pretty disappointed, everyone here comes to play for that gold medal. Over the six games we were inconsistent and looking back we were only happy with one game against South Africa in our pool, which was a do-or-die match to get to the quarters.

“We had a massive lead up to this tournament and we couldn’t have been happier with our preparation, but I guess every other team was doing the same thing so you need to be able to perform when it comes to the moment and we weren’t able to do it when it counted.”

Super Bowl winner Nate Ebner looked back on his time in Rio with the USA Sevens Eagles with mixed emotions.

“It’s been a great Olympic experience but on our first day we got ourselves into a hole we couldn’t get out of. Ultimately we lost two close games to two of the best teams in the world and it’s unfortunate we couldn’t go through, but it shows the type of character these boys have that we could go out and win the rest of the games that we could.

Ebner flies home on Friday to join his New England Patriots team-mates who have been cheering him on from America.

“I think it will be a little strange (going back to the day job) but I’ve been there for so many years it will be second nature quickly.

“I’ve got a lot of friends and family telling me they really enjoyed watching (rugby) at least as much as they’ve enjoyed watching NFL. I hope the American people want to watch the finals and that rugby sevens is something they take a much closer look at going forward.”

Earlier in the day Brazil’s Juliano Fiori revealed his great sense of pride at representing his nation in their home Games and seeing the development of rugby in the country.

“My Olympic experience has been unbelievable. Two and a half years ago I didn’t think it was possible. I found a group of brothers who embraced me from the start and gave me an opportunity to do something I always wanted to do which is represent my country.

“There’s been an injection of investment at the elite level to improve performance, build academies and then you see it at the grassroots levels. I have a cousin that has a project that gets kids involved from poorer communities. Rugby is growing so quick here.”