Coach Ben Ryan honored as Fiji celebrates gold medal
In this , Nov. 7, 2013, file photo, Fiji rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan, center, speaks to his squad in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. Since moving from England in 2013, Ryan has harnessed the passion Fijians have for their kind of football, reinforcing the connections 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 greater opportunities. (AP Photo/Nick Perry, File)
SUVA, Fiji (AP) — The England-born coach of Fiji's gold medal-winning rugby sevens team, Ben Ryan, has been awarded one of the Pacific nation's highest civil honors at a ceremony in the capital Suva on Monday.
Fiji president Jioji Konrote made Ryan a Companion of the Order of Fiji, the highest honorary title that can be awarded under the Order. The Fiji players and team managers were made Officers of the Order of Fiji and, with Ryan, were awarded $30,000 by the Fiji government for winning Fiji's first Olympics medal.
The awards took place at a ceremony at Suva's packed National Stadium on Monday, which was made a national holiday in the team's honor.
Fans cheered as Ryan drained a bowl of the local beverage kava as part of a traditional ceremony of celebration.