September 14, 2021
Tokyo Olympics gold medal winning Coach Gareth Baber says he is always awed by Captain Jerry Tuwai's commitment and revealed it was tough to see Tuwai and other players being so emotional during camp in Suva.
While speaking to Fiji Rugby Media, Baber said Tuwai like many other players missed their family back home.
He said the players were in the national camp preparing for the Oceania 7s and Tokyo Olympics while they were longing to meet their family but the situation couldn’t allow them.
“When we were in lockdown Jerry was in a lot of pain. I could see it and we had talked about it. He was in tears at that time because the situation with COVID and not being able to see his family was really tough for him.”
“Whether you see you are a big strong man and get along with it, feelings are feelings, emotions are emotions.”
“You don’t get Jerry Tuwai playing rugby unless he is at sense and he is that type of man. He wanted desperately to go and see his family. In my opinion he could pass the fact that I was saying to Jerry ``if you go now we can’t go to Australia and we are certainly not going to win that gold medal.”
Baber also said that Tuwai’s decision helped the team to combine well and win the Gold at the Olympics.
“And he had to make one of the toughest decisions in his life which was not seeing my family for months and we are going to do this. And Jerry was the one who brought it up- I didn’t bring it up because I didn’t want to embarrass anybody.”
“I think it’s a good story for people to understand just what you go through that situation. I know people have gone through tough situations in Fiji but stories here of not being able to get into the hospital to see family members.”
“The humanity that we had over the last two years and losing friends and families-I hope that brings people closer to each other and more tolerant towards each other. Because the team showed me they played in the true spirit of bringing Fijians which is all around our culture, faith, family and playing for their country which is the real binding that you can get in such an environment,” Baber added.
By Romeka Romena