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Lessons from Gold Coast

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

As we welcome our sporting ambassadors from Gold Coast, I would like to thank each individual for giving out time, energy and effort to represent our tiny island nation in the competitive Gold Coast atmosphere.

Our biggest contingent to the Commonwealth Games finished 23rd and returned home with one gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

Fiji was represented in 12 sports while a record 96 athletes were chosen to fly our flag.

While the nation congratulates Cikamatana (gold medal), Vaivai and Hill (bronze medal) and our 7s team (silver medal), let's put some thought on how Fiji could scoop more medals from the Commonwealth Games.

Samoa finished the competition with two gold and three silver medals while PNG achieved one gold medal and two silver medals. Samoa and PNG finished ahead of Fiji.

The performance of our athletes, especially Mustafa Fall and Aaron Powell, was commendable but our netters, the Fijiana, badminton and squash teams and our bowlers could have done better.

I was speechless and shocked with the performance of our Pearls who lost six games in Gold Coast.

The 7s team was not able to end our winless jinx at the games although our boys battered the Blitzbokke in the semis.

Rugby was Fiji's top bet but Eileen covered for the boys who had to settle for silver.

We sent our best to HK, the spiritual home of 7s, and it paid dividends as Fiji dominated at Happy Valley to win a record 18th title and an unprecedented four in a row.

This win brought relief and smiles to the disaster-affected fans. The Commonwealth Games, like a "social glue", pulled the nation together but our efforts were not enough as NZ denied us possession and kept the game tight to keep us scoreless.

Had Baber won gold, he would have created history as the only coach to win Commonwealth Games gold medal and in the process beating South Africa and NZ five in a row.

Baber has already gone into the history books for guiding Fiji to our first four in a row at HK.

Perhaps this is why our coach was emotional when he hugged his family after the final.

The Commonwealth Games is water under the bridge and Fiji must reset its focus on winning our third RWC 7s and fourth WRSS title.

The next mission is winning the Singapore 7s and making it three wins in row in the WRSS.

Barring any upsets in Singapore, Fiji is likely to clash against Australia in the quarters and South Africa in the semis and this should decide the outcome heading to the last two tournaments.

I conclude with the words of "humble" Jerry Tuwai: "This is not the end but start of a new journey with the world 7s series in our sight and after that we will focus on the world cup." We fell at the final hurdle boys so let's belt our opponents in Singapore!

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