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The Fiji gold medal rugby team somehow sings even better than they play

July 29, 2021

Here's a trivia question I once wrote:

There are three nations that have won a single gold medal, and no other medal of any kind, in the history of the summer Olympics. Interestingly, all three golds came at the 2016 Games in Brazil, where a judoka from Kosovo and a Taekwondo fighter from Jordan both won gold. The third historic gold medal came in a team event. Which nation won that medal?

The answer was Fiji in men's rugby sevens, and that answer is no longer correct—once again, in 2020 2021, the Fiji men have taken gold, this time by beating New Zealand in the finals. It's a pretty sweet story, especially because Fiji itself is getting hammered by a COVID outbreak, to the point that there's a curfew in place, but they still found a way to celebrate in a way that is, at least to me, goosebump-making:

Another cool facet: Some of the Fiji players had to take a freight plane to Japan due to COVID restrictions on commercial flights, meaning they were basically riding as cargo in order to take their shot. The whole story rules, even more so because rugby is so enormous in Fiji.

But I'm here to talk about another jaw-dropping moment that came just after they won gold. At the medal ceremony, the Fiji men sang their anthem together in unison, and, uh ... wow:

More goosebumps! I mean, this is so good that I'm almost convinced Fiji replaced their players with a professional chorus for the ceremony. It's especially astounding when you compare it to literally any other group of athletes singing their national anthem, all of whom sound, in the words of a colleague, like "atonal trash." That's the best case scenario; sometimes they just mouth the words, and sometimes they don't even bother.

It's also just a crazy cool anthem, and a perfect fit for these guys. I'm sure they could do a passable job with "O Canada," or whatever the Russians sing, but it wouldn't sound this righteous. It's passionate, it's patriotic in all the best ways, and it's what the Olympics should be all about (but are not). I will now be rooting for Fiji in all future sports/wars/whatever ... except for Vijay Singh, because I've watched him for years and I don't think he could pull this off. Other than Vijay, though? Rerevaka na kalou ka doka na Tui!