Fiji sevens team returns home to heroes' welcome

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Fiji rugby players stand during the playing of their national anthem after winning the gold medal match against Britain in the mens rugby sevens at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Fiji rugby players stand during the playing of their national anthem after winning the gold medal match against Britain in the mens rugby sevens at the 2016 Summer Olympics. (Photo: Robert F. Bukaty)

Fiji's gold-medal-winning men's sevens rugby team arrived home Sunday to a delighted nation thrilled by the capture of its first ever Olympic medal.

The team's flight touched down in Nadi at midday after a journey from Brazil via Santiago, Chile and Auckland, New Zealand. Fans were asked not to greet the team at the airport and instead lined the streets or waited in their thousands at Prince Charles Park where an official welcome ceremony was to take place.

Fiji's players pray after winning the men's rugby sevens gold medal match against Britain at the Summer Olympics.

Fiji's players pray after winning the men's rugby sevens gold medal match against Britain at the Summer Olympics.

Fiji's players pray after winning the men's rugby sevens gold medal match against Britain at the Summer Olympics.
Fiji's players pray after winning the men's rugby sevens gold medal match against Britain at the Summer Olympics.

The streets of Nadi were decked with banners and flags ahead of the team's arrival.

Players and England-born coach Ben Ryan were due to fly to the capital Suva later Sunday where further celebrations are planned.

The Fiji government has proclaimed a national holiday on Monday and has awarded each player $30,000.

-AP

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