Grenada celebrates James’ goldGOT IT: Grenada’s quarter-miler kirani James showing his elation after winning the men’s 400-metre final yesterday. (AP Picture)
Tue, August 07, 2012 - 12:01 AM
ST GEORGE’S – Thousands took to the streets yesterday to celebrate Grenada’s first ever Olympic medal after the mercurial Kirani James stormed to victory in the final of the 400 metres in London.
Huge crowds began an invasion of the west coast fishing town of Gouyave, James’ home town, moments after he stopped the clock at 43.94 seconds to spark nationwide celebrations.
Across the country, in tension-filled living rooms, people were glued to television screens as the 19-year-old World champion surged home to break Michael Johnson’s All-Comers Record of 43.98 seconds.
Hundreds gathered around huge public television monitors set up in the island’s four main towns, shouting with excitement as James created history by becoming the only non-United States athlete to run below 44 seconds.
In addition to Gouyave, there were massive gatherings in the town of Grenville on the east coast and the tourism belt of Grand Anse, as well as at the National Stadium in the capital, St George’s.
After James stormed to the finish unchallenged, crowds dressed in national colours, blowing shells and car horns in jubilation took to the streets.
Several new calypsos paying homage to James, released for Grenada’s carnival season climaxing this weekend, blasted from street corner DJs and local radio stations.
However, most of the celebrations were taking place on Gouyave’s narrow streets, which were packed with hundreds of people dancing and singing.
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, who visited Gouyave, subsequently announced to a frenzied crowd that today would be a half-holiday, with all government offices closed at 1 p.m.
He later called James to offer congratulations.
“I say it’s an historic occasion because he is the first Grenadian to obtain gold at the Olympics, not only for Grenada but the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States),” Thomas said.
“So it’s an historic occasion and we are all proud of him. We want to let him know we’re going to support him and continue to do whatever we can to help him because he has made us proud.”
Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean, who is originally from Gouyave, also joined in the festivities in the area.
Last year Grenada was also thrown into euphoria when James won the 400 metres gold medal at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. (CMC)
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