11 Aug 2017

Sport: Fiji's Olympic 7s success remembered one year on

3:05 pm on 11 August 2017

Former Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan says the past year has flown by since winning gold at the Rio Olympics.

Fiji thrashed Great Britain 43-7 in the first ever Olympic sevens final a year ago today to win the country's first ever medal at the Summer Games.

Fiji’s Vatemo Ravouvou scores a try during the Olympic final in Rio.

Fiji’s Vatemo Ravouvou scores a try during the Olympic final in Rio. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ryan said it was an incredible journey and in many ways it already felt like a lifetime ago.

"These days on social media you get your Facebook where you wake up and suddenly get a memory that Facebook wants to share with you from a year ago and I've been getting those regularly of videos of me getting on the plan to the training camp in Chile and various other ones," he said.

"In many ways it feels like a lifetime ago but at the same time that last 12 months has flown by. Everything has changed for me, at a personal and professional level, and that team has almost been dismantled so there's been a lot of change, both with the Fiji team and with me.

"Some days it feels like it was yesterday and others it feels like it was somebody else that took them to Rio".

Former Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan was recognised for his Olympic achivement during the 2016 World Rugby Awards.

Former Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan was recognised for his Olympic achivement during the 2016 World Rugby Awards. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Since ending his time in Fiji, Ryan has kept up with the sevens world, travelling to a number of World Series events, and also spent time in the United States, including a stint as a consultant with the New York Knicks basketball team in the NBA.

He said when he accepted the Fiji job in 2013 the ultimate goal was always for the team to be standing on the dais with a gold medal around their necks.

"All the trouble we had in the first six months and everything that I had in that first couple of weeks you still saw the talent and you still saw the opportunity and I think even in those first few days that's probably what kept me on the island," he said.

"I could see we were going to assemble a team that was going to win world titles and could win an Olympic medal. We just had to get all our ducks in a row, so to speak."

Fiji stand on the medal podium after winning gold during the Men's rugby sevens Final.

Fiji stand on the medal podium after winning gold during the Men's rugby sevens Final. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"I think we obviously knew it was a stretch-goal but, like you said, we had the talent and I was very grateful to the prime minister in those last 18-months, where he just made sure that everybody else stayed out of my business I suppose and let me get on with things," said the Englishman.

"When you're getting results then everyone's happy so it was and the book is out in May and there's lot of stories that people won't have read or know about that we'll talk about. It was an incredible journey and one I'm pretty grateful that I was part of."

Ben Ryan said a book detailing his time with the Fiji team will be released in May next year.

Fiji coach Ben Ryan during Fiji's Olympic gold medal celebrations.

Ben Ryan during Fiji's Olympic gold medal celebrations. Photo: Fiji Government