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THERE’s an air of excitement and anticipation as Brazil gets set to host the 31st Olympic Games from 5-21 August. Never before has an Olympic gold medal been so close a reality for the tiny island nations of the Pacific, especially Fiji.

The rugby sevens obsessed nation is confident their national team can bring home the country’s first ever Olympic medal after winning this year’s World Series. While rugby was last on the Olympic programme in 1924, rugby sevens is making its debut in Rio. It has been 20 years since a Pacific Island nation last won an Olympic medal.

Tongan boxer Paea Wolfgramm still holds the honour of being the only athlete representing the Pacific islands to have won an Olympic medal.He took silver at the 1996 Atlanta Games losing the gold medal bout to the future world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Two decades on and the closest the Pacific has come to winning another medal was at the Beijing Games in 2008 when Samoa’s golden girl of weightlifting, Ele Opeloge narrowly missed a bronze medal by just one kilogram in the women’s 75kg+ category.

ISLANDS BUSINESS looks at some of the Pacific athletes and teams going to Rio.

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