PM HON. VOREQE BAINIMARAMA’S SPEECH AT THE “ROAD TO GOLD” COCKTAIL AND NAMING OF THE FIJI 7S TEAM TO THE 2016 RIO OLYMPICS

onourable Ministers;
Road to Gold Sponsors;
Government Officials;
The Fiji Rugby Union Officials, Players and Management;
Invited Guests; and
Fiji Rugby Supporters in Fiji and Around the World

Bula vinaka and good evening.

It is my pleasure to be here with you all at this Road to Gold fundraising cocktail to officially announce the names of the men and women who will be representing Fiji on our Sevens sides at the 2016 Olympics.

In Rio, less than a month from today, Fijian rugby will be displayed on a stage larger than ever before. Hundreds of millions of people will be watching. And for the first time, the Olympic audience will have the chance to experience the exciting game of Sevens rugby.
I have the unique privilege of serving as Prime Minister and as President of the Fiji Rugby Union, and let me tell you, this is a historic occasion for Fiji. We have in front of us an opportunity to show a global audience the calibre and class of Fijian rugby. To show them how a small island nation can consistently remain on top of the rugby world. It is our moment, so let’s seize it and show them what we are made of.

Our Flying Fijians and Fijianas are the pride of our nation. On our women’s side, Coaches Chris Cracknell and Iliesa Tanivula have selected the following players to represent Fiji in Rio:

ASENA ROKOMARAMA
LAVENIA TINAI
LITIA NAIQATO
LUISA TISOLO
MEREWAI CUMU
RAIJIELI DAVEUA
REBECCA TAVO
RUSILA NAGASAU
TIMAIMA RAVISA
TIMAIMA TAMOI
VINIANA RIWAI
JIOWANA SAUTO
ANA ROQICA (CAPTAIN)

Our men’s side heads to the Olympics after winning their second world title in a row – and, unsurprisingly, the expectations for Rio are very high. But I’m confident in the ability of Coach Ben Ryan and the rest of the team staff in picking the right boys to represent Fiji. And they have selected the following players:

APISAI DOMOLAILAI
JASA VEREMALUA
JOSUA TUISOVA
KITIONE DAWAI
LEONE NAKARAWA
SAMISONI NASAGAVESI
SAVENACA RAWACA
SEMI KUNATANI
JERRY TUWAI
VATEMO RAVOUVOU
VILIAME MATA
MASIVESI DAKUWAQA
OSEA KOLINISAU (CAPTAIN)

Congratulations to those ruggers who have been chosen. We cannot wait to see you play and I know that all those Fijians who will not be able to make it to Rio will be glued to the television for every minute of the action.

In 2012, Hon. Iliesa Delana – our current Assistant Minister for Sports – brought home Fiji’s first Gold medal in the Paralympics. That was a remarkable achievement, and our Sevens sides have the talent, skill and coaching to do the same, by bringing back Fiji’s first ever Summer Olympic Gold.

Make no mistake, the rugby in Rio will be the most competitive you have ever played. Because to win Gold for your country is the greatest feat a team can achieve. And in Rio, Fiji will be the team to beat. If you don’t bring the intensity, if you don’t bring the desire to win – your opposition will. But if you do, we all know what you are capable of. If you do, the Gold is yours for the taking.

I would wish you luck, but we all know that it is your preparation and willpower that will determine your success. So do your best and make us proud.

Thank you again to all of our players, thank you to our coaches and team staff, the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee, our sponsors and donors and all of the fans out there for their support.

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, we wish you every success in Rio and we look forward to you bringing home Fiji’s first ever Summer Olympic Gold.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.