Nacuqu: The Day We Wanted To Forget About The Olympics

Key playmaker tells of the dispute that took place at their camp and how Tuwai and senior players turned gold medal campaign around.
14 Aug 2021 12:04
Nacuqu: The Day We Wanted To Forget About The Olympics
Team Fiji men’’s rugby sevens playmaker Waisea Nacuqu gives his victory salute after beating New Zealand 27-12 in the gold medal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games final in Japan on July 28, 2021. Photo: World Rugby

The Team Fiji men’s rugby sevens team’s gold medal campaign to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was on the verge of collapsing, if it was not for senior players like captain, Jerry Tuwai.

This was revealed to SUNsports yesterday by key playmaker, Waisea Nacuqu.

He said they were camping at the Pacific Theological College (PTC) in Nasese, Suva, with strict COVID-19 restrictions being put in place.

“We were away from home and it was tough to be away from your family especially with the (COVID-19) lockdown happening,” Nacuqu said.

“The crushing blow came when we were told that we were going home after the Olympic Games.

“We found it hard to accept it and we decided that we’ll go back home.”

Nacuqu said, they did not train that day as they sat down to discuss about the directive.

“During the discussion, most of the players wanted to walk out of camp and forget about playing at the Olympics.

“Emotions were high and it was then a few senior players stood up and spoke for our brothers who were unemployed and the fact they they had just signed their contracts.

“No one moved, as we thought about them too especially when we had signed our new contracts.”

Nacuqu said things began to take a twist from there as they began to realise of what they are there for.

“In that meeting, things began to change for the better.

“We ended up having a collective team agreement to start training together, to have patience and to win that Olympic gold medal.

“Once done, then we’ll return home to meet our families.

“It was a different environment altogether, but I thanked my brothers for always encouraging each other when times were tough.”

Nacuqu said after the gold medal win in Tokyo they returned to the Olympic Village and talked about that day at PTC.

“We were emotional. We looked at our gold medals and talked about how we had worked hard for it.

“But moreover, we talked about that day at PTC, if we had given up and we would not be there at the Olympics.”


Nacuqu said the inspirational message of Tuwai was what that kept them going during those tough times.

“I thank Jerry for his great leadership on and off the field. His messages during training boosted our morale and it kept us going,” he said.

“We had spent five months in camp but we kept our heads down and worked hard to win this gold medal.”

Nacuqu said he does not know about Tuwai’s plan but he is hopeful that they could team-up again for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England and the Sevens Rugby World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa.

“For me, if I survive until 2024 then I’ll be playing at the Paris Olympic Games.” Nacuqu added.

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