Almost a year after Fiji won their first-ever Olympic medal with a breath-taking 43-7 win over Great Britain in Rugby Sevens, the country has honored its medal-winning players and coach with new banknotes.Two million $7 banknotes have been commissioned by the Fijian government to pay tribute to the country’s Rugby Sevens team which claimed gold at the Olympic Games last year.
The south Pacific island claimed its first-ever medal place at the Olympics, beating much-fancied Great Britain 43-7 in the final of the Rugby Sevens.
“In Fiji, rugby is an intimate part of our collective identity,” said Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in a speech. “And suddenly, no nation can match the success we have achieved.”
The new banknotes, which are legal tender and worth approximately $3.35 (3.12 euros), were released through bank branches on Friday.
Bainimarama said that Fiji’s gold medal success in Rio de Janeiro showed that despite its small size, it could compete with the best in the world. The country has a population of 881,000.
Former coach Ben Ryan from England was honored with a 50-cent piece, of which one million will be issued by the country’s reserve bank. The Englishman stepped down last year and is now a consultant for the Welsh Rugby Union.
Ryan was given the Companion of the Order of Fiji for his success – the highest order which is awarded for “achievement and merit to Fiji and mankind as a whole.”
Medal-winning captain Osea Kolinisau was featured on the other side of the coin.
Barry Whiteside, governor of the Reserve Bank, apologized for not issuing the commemorative coins earlier due to technological restrictions.
rd/hg (AFP, Reuters, Fijivillage)