For Sesenieli Donu, Fijian Sevens rugby triumph in Tokyo thrills home village – OpEd – Eurasia Review

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By Josefa Babitu *

It might just have been a bronze medal for some people, but for the Fijian team, especially Sesenieli Donu, it was a sacrifice and a sign of gratitude for his village of Vatukarasa in Nadroga. .

After an intense competition for the bronze medal with Great Britain at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in Japan, the country the women’s rugby sevens team won their first ever medal after defeating their former colonizer on July 31.

The excitement has spread like wildfire in Vatukarasa as one of their own is named in the history book, especially at a hard-hit time when Fiji is battling the deadly delta variant of covid-19.

“It’s gold for us to see that one of our own women has risen to the top and played against teams from bigger countries,” said Donu’s uncle Jone Domonakibau.

“After losing both parents at a very young age, Sesenieli became determined to be one of the best players in rugby and she has proven herself.

“She would get lost in training and even if it meant being around men because it was a male dominated sport. She never gave up.

Donu was chosen for the seven-a-side after proving she was worthy to be with the squad during the 2020 Women’s Skippers Cup matches in Lautoka.

The 25-year-old’s Olympic trip out of Fiji is her first time in a foreign country and Domonakibau said it was a deserving trip after what she had been through.

“We are so lucky to have witnessed her life in rugby at the Olympics and look forward to more magical works of God in her life as we know she is a capable child.”

He knew Donu would do wonders when they saw her return from her training at the beach near their village early in the morning.

“She would wake up between 4 and 5 in the morning when the village is silent and run to the beach and train.

“It was no surprise to many of us to wake up when he came back after strenuous exercise.” He added that the village was having a party for the 25-year-old when she returned.

“We are aware of the restrictions in place so we would do something really small but meaningful to show how proud we are of her.

Like Donu, the rest of the historic squad couldn’t contain their bliss like a Fiji Rugby Union video featuring Fijian captain Rusila Nagasau saying “thank you” to the locals.

“I want to thank the girls for standing up and winning bronze today,” she said.

“To our family and friends at home, I would like to say a big vinaka vakalevu (thank you)… thank you very much for your prayers and support.

“To the government, thank you very much for helping us throughout the five month quarantine in Fiji. “

On his official Facebook page, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama congratulated the women’s team on the legacy created in Tokyo.

“Before the Rio Olympics, there were 200 female rugby players registered in Fiji. Now there are over 1000.

“With the eyes of young Fijian women on these heroes, we will no doubt soon see thousands more.

The PM said the best was yet to come from the team.

The women’s rugby sevens team will return to Fiji on August 10 and spend 14 days in quarantine before celebrating victory with their loved ones afterwards.

* This article first appeared in Asia-Pacific Report with the link https://asiapacificreport.nz/2021/08/05/61490/. Josefa babitu is a final year journalism student at the University of the South Pacific (USP). He is also the current editor-in-chief of Wansolwara, USP Journalism student training journal and online publication. He contributes to Asia Pacific Report.


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