Olympics

Why Wainiqolo Played With A Moustache

 Star winger reveals how Jerry Tuwai and Semi Radradra pushed him to run hard at their opponents
05 Aug 2021 15:28
Why Wainiqolo Played With A Moustache

Olympic Games gold medalist, Jiuta Wainiqolo, said the only reason he played with a moustache at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was to pay tribute to our former national rugby sevens legends.

Speaking to SUNsports yesterday, Wainiqolo said while attending Vashist Muni Primary School in Navua, he would collect every cent he sees to buy CD copies of our national rugby sevens team playing in international tournaments.

“I watched our sevens stars like Mesake Rasari, Tomasi Cama (Snr), Marika Vunibaka and Viliame Satala,” Wainiqolo said.

“Most of them had moustache and when I was in the squad for the Olympics I decided to grow one.

“So when I was playing in the Olympics, the moustache was a way for me to honour our rugby heroes.”

Wainiqolo also revealed how captain (Jerry) Tuwai and Semi (Radradra) pushed him to him run hard at their opponents.

“Before the Great Britain game, Tuwai and Semi told me that my mission was to run straight at Dan Norton.

“When I got the ball I did just that and ran over him. Actually, I wanted to laugh but I had to continue running to score the try. After the game, I went to apologise to Norton for what had happened but he laughed and said, ‘I’m only human and I make mistakes.’

“In the final against New Zealand, Tuwai and Semi again told me to run for my life every time I get the ball and that was how I scored a try by running through three players.”

Wainiqolo scored five tries for the Team Fiji men’s rugby sevens team in the Olympics.

 

Turning point

The turning point of his sporting career came when he was dropped from the Fijian Under-20 football team.

“I started playing soccer in Vashist Muni Primary School and continued on at Vashist Muni College. I didn’t play rugby a lot then,” he said.

“Soccer took me around places like Lautoka and Ba and I really loved the game.

“When I was selected to play for the Fiji Under-20 soccer team I went to camp at the Ba Academy but I didn’t make the final cut.”

Wainiqolo said he was not disappointed of his omission but believed that it was not God’s will for him to play football.

He later attended, Ratu Kadavulevu School and that was where he took up rugby union and rugby league.

Wainiqolo had a short stint with National Rugby League (NRL) club Cronulla Sharks Under-20 side before returning home to pursue a career in rugby union.

He played for the Fijian Warriors, Fijian Drua and made the Flying Fijians starting team when they beat the Barbarians 34-32 in Twickenham, London in 2019.

Wainiqolo had to turn down offers from overseas clubs as he set his goal to make the Fijian 7s squad to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

 

Tough training

“I guess the desire to play in the Olympics came in 2016 when Fiji won the gold at the Rio Games. I was sitting at home watching the games and the celebration in Suva,” recalled the 22-year-old.

“I counted the years and told myself that I will be the next Olympian and my dream came true. Back in 2016, I was so emotional watching the boys win the gold medal and the celebration in Suva.”

Wainiqolo said sevens rugby training is tough.

“I’ve shared this with the coaches. However, I thank the management, coach and trainer Naca Cawanibuka for their words of encouragement.

“They motivated me to keep on going. I thought that I will never make it because it was so tough.

“I managed to get through then preparing for Olympics, the lockdown in Suva and  away from our families for five months.”

Wainiqolo said at one stage they were on the verge of running away from camp.

“We were about to break camp at St John’s Hostel in Suva but the coach (Gareth Baber) kept us together.

“We enjoyed all those moments altogether because it will never come back again. “I’m so happy to be back home from the Olympics.”

He said while under quarantine in Nadi, the thought of winning the Olympic gold medal it starting to sink in.

Wainiqolo leaves for France as soon as he is released from quarantine to join Toulon for the 2021/2022 Top 14 season.

 

 



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