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Dec 2 2017 at 09:13

Years of meticulous planning and traversing the globe winning back-to-back rugby sevens world series titles had coach Ben Ryan prepared for just about anything when he revealed his Fiji squad for the Olympics. Youth Raiders Jerseys .One thing he couldnt guarantee was the reaction of the players who missed out, a response he now regards as the measure of the team.One by one, they came in and one by one I told them their fate and to a man they were outstanding in the way they took their news, Ryan recalled. If they werent selected they thanked us, they shook our hands and they left with their heads held high.It proved once and for all, in case there was even a tiny doubt in Ryans mind, that the squad hes been honing for Rio de Janeiro is way, way bigger than any individual -- this group of players is what Fijians everywhere refer to as the peoples team.And the people have high expectations. Fijians have competed in the Olympics since 1956, but have never won a medal. Theyve never had a chance until now, though, to contest their national sport at the Summer Games.It is fair to say, Fiji is close to meltdown with Rio fever, Ryan told World Rugby this week. It is always an obsession on the island to follow the team but has gone to a new level with the Olympics. Hundreds have lined the training pitch to watch us.Since moving from England in 2013, Ryan has harnessed the passion Fijians have for their kind of football, reinforcing the bonds between the game and the people in a Pacific island nation which has become too familiar with seeing its best rugby talent move abroad seeking opportunities.Despite never reaching the World Cup semifinals in the traditional 15-a-side game, Fijians have long been the masters of the abbreviated sevens version because of their size, speed and flair.So when rugby sevens was added to the Olympic program for Rio, the goal posts shifted and gold became the goal.Even former San Francisco 49ers player and Australian National Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne quit the NFL in a bid to make the Fijian team -- but he didnt give himself enough time to break in.The inspirational Osea Kolinisau will lead the mens team, after he has carried the Fiji flag at the opening ceremony for the Olympics.With 243 matches in the world series, the 30-year-old is right for the job. He topped the tackle count in the 2015-16 season and, when Fiji was still recovering from the devastating Cyclone Winston, Kolinisau dedicated the Las Vegas stop on the world series circuit in March to the people, delivering the title with a player-of-the-match performance in the final. The following month in Hong Kong, the Fijians won again to all but secure the world championship.Winning the world series last season was a really massive one, Kolinisau said. When we went back home, our normal three-hour trip from the airport took us about 10 hours. Villagers wanting to thank the team for what theyve done.In Savenaca Rawaca, Jasa Veremalua, Kitione Taliga and Jerry Tuwai, Fiji had four players in the top 14 on the world series try-scoring list last season -- no other country had more than one. As well, theres France-based Josua the Fijian Bus Tuisova in a versatility role and forwards such as Leone Nakarawa to provide possession.Waisale Serevi, one of the greatest sevens exponents of all time, is a proud Fijian who knows what the OIympic team is facing.Theres nothing less than the gold medal that theyre looking for, Serevi told The Associated Press. They dont want the silver. They dont want the bronze. They want the gold medal back at home.The Fijian men open their campaign against host Brazil next Tuesday, followed by group matches Argentina and the United States.Ryan has an obligation to use a Fiji-style game plan, full of running from all parts of the field and risky passes, but is confident the extra fitness he has drilled into the squad and the extraordinary skills that can only be acquired by having a deep pool of players will ensure his team is consistently playing at a high level.We play the way that everybody wants the game to be played, he said. We keep the ball alive, we do have audacious off-loads, they play with a smile on their face.We play with a high risk -- but its only a risk if you make a mistake.Its a high-risk, high-reward mission for Ryan, who agrees the gold medal is the No. 1 priority.Theres not many sports around the globe that has such an impact to the whole nation, he said. The country does grind to a standstill when the boys are playing. There is pressure on the boys to perform, because those (fans) will also be pointing fingers if things dont work out. Camo Raiders Jerseys . Miller finished in two minutes, 6.09 seconds, one day before the first medal race on the Alpine schedule. The 36-year-old American also turned in the top time in Thursdays opening training session. Pink Raiders Jerseys . Fernandez, coached in Toronto by former two-time Olympic silver medallist Brian Orser, scored 267.11 points and is the first champion to successfully defend since Russias Evgeny Plushenko in 2005 and 2006. www.officialraidersnflauthenticshop.com/ . SIMONS ISLAND, Ga.GULLANE -- A blue sky and a gentle breeze usually means ripe scoring conditions at the British Open. Just not on the brown links of Muirfield. Zach Johnson handled it better than anyone Thursday. Helped along by a 45-foot eagle putt and only one bogey despite trouble lurking around every pot bunker, Johnson had a 5-under 66 for a one-shot lead, the first time hes been atop the leaderboard at any major since he rallied to win the Masters six years ago. Tiger Woods more than survived the late end of the draw, after the sun had thoroughly baked out the crispy greens and allowed only eight of the 20 rounds under par. He knocked one putt clear off the green, but 10 one-putts -- most of them for pars -- carried him to a 69, a good start in his bid to end his five-year drought in the majors. "The golf course progressively got more dried out and more difficult as we played," Woods said. "And Im very pleased to shoot anything even par or better." And for all the talk about Muirfields men-only membership, at least the club doesnt discriminate against age. Mark OMeara, the 56-year-old who won his claret jug in 1998 at Royal Birkdale, shot a 67 and nearly tied Johnson for the lead until his 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th took a hard spin out of the cup. Another former champion, 54-year-old Tom Lehman, opened with a 68. It was an eclectic group who broke par, from major champions to players making their British Open debut. What they all had in common was finding a way to get through a firm, fast and frightening test at Muirfield that figures to get even harder if the Royal & Ancient doesnt put some water on the links course. Phil Mickelson opened with a 69 and felt like he got off easy by playing in the morning. Mickelson was concerned about some hole locations being too close to the edge of slopes, and he pleaded with the R&A to let go of its ego and "just set the course up the way the best players can win." Some of the best did just fine. "Anytime you shoot under par in an Open -- or a major, for that matter -- you have to be putting at least somewhat decent," Johnson said. "And I putted great. I made some nice birdie putts and obviously that one for eagle. But I struck some really nice, solid par putts. Thats what youve got to do to stay in it." Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain joined OMeara at 67, while the group at 68 included Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker, who each have contended on Sunday over the last two years in the Open. Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, who lost in a playoff at the Masters in April, and 19-year-old Jordan Spieth were in the group at 69. Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., playing in his first major, opened at 5-over 76. It was a beautiful day along the Firth of Forth. And it was hard work. No one felt safe until the ball stopped bouncing along the crusty fairways, and no one was sure when that would happen. "I havent seen anything like this," said Snedeker, who tied the 36-hole Open record a year ago at Lytham. "Ive played in, I think, five Opens. This is completely new to me -- foreign to see a 2-iron going 300 yards. You have got to be wary of how youre shaping your golf ball, and what shot selections youre using on the greens." OMeara thought he hit a reasonable bunker shot on the 15th until it kept rolling -- and rolling -- off the green and into another bunker. Elite Raiders Jerseys. "They get so glassy and crispy around the holes," Graeme McDowell, who played with Woods, said after a 75. "You literally can see 300 footprints around the hole from all the players and caddies that have been out there today. They just get really shiny, and really glassy. I couldnt single out a pin that I thought was unfair. But if you got on the wrong side of them, they could make you look very, very silly." Yes, there was plenty of that. Rory McIlroy never looked comfortable, and it caught up with him. After missing left of the 12th green, he chipped it up the slope and watched it roll back down to his feet. His next chip was long and he wound up with double bogey. On the 15th hole, his putt to the back pin rolled well past the hole and into a bunker for another double bogey. A bogey-bogey finish gave him a 79, his highest score at the Open since that 80 in the vicious wind of St. Andrews in 2010. At least he had some company. Luke Donald, another former No. 1 player in the world, had a double bogey and a triple bogey two holes apart on the back nine. He shot 80. Nick Faldo celebrated his 56th birthday with a return to the links where he won two of his three claret jugs. He shot a 79, but still enjoyed the nerves and the emotions of seeing the gallery lining both sides of the fairway in his first Open in three years. Lloyd Saltman got the 142nd Open off to a dubious start when it took him three tee shots to get his ball in play. He made a quadruple-bogey eight. Some eight hours later, Woods hooked his opening tee shot so far left, and into grass so deep, that he took a penalty shot for an unplayable lie. Woods hit into a bunker, but blasted out to 4 feet to escape with bogey. He made four birdies in his round, including a 25-foot bender behind the 13th hole. But it was the clutch putting that kept him going. Dustin Johnson played the three par 5s in 4-under, yet what made him smile was a par. From left of the par-3 seventh green, he chipped between two bunkers and watched the ball ride the rounded face of one, roll precariously near the top of another and settled 4 feet away. "That," he said, "was sweet." Mickelson, coming off a win at the Scottish Open on a links-styled course at Castle Stuart, rolled in three big putts early in his round and kept it together with great lag putts for par when he ran into what he called "technical difficulties." He rallied with a pair of late birdies, only for his last attempt from 15 feet above the hole on the 18th to slide some 6 feet by for a three-putt bogey. Even so, Lefty was pleased to be done as the greens turned brown. "I got very lucky to play early today because as the day wore on and we got to the back nine, about a third of every green started to die and become brown," he said. "And the pins were very edgy, on the slopes. The guys that played early had a huge, huge break. Because even without any wind, its beyond difficult." It was tough all day. Ninety-eight players in the 156-man field had at least a double bogey on their scorecards. Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover might have summed it up best when he took to Twitter after opening with an 80. "Muirfield 1, Me 0." Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' ' 



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