King JamesGrenada’s Kirani James celebrating after winning the island’s first Olympics medal in the men’s 400 metres yesterday. (AP Picture)
By SHERRYLYN A. TOPPIN in London | Tue, August 07, 2012 - 12:07 AM
Nineteen-year-old Kirani James won Grenada’s first ever medal at the Olympic Games, racing to a new national record of 43.94 seconds to strike gold in the men’s 400 metres last night at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
James, the reigning World champion, led a Caribbean sweep of the top four positions in the one-lap event which has traditionally been dominated by the United States.
Eighteen-year-old Luguelín Santos of the Dominican Republic, who won the World Juniors title last month in Barcelona, Spain, was second in 44.46 seconds and Trinidad and Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon clocked a personal best 44.52 to take bronze.
Chris Brown of The Bahamas was fourth overall in 44.79 seconds and compatriot Demetrius Pinder seventh in 44.98 seconds. There were seven sub-45s in the race.
James ran a very controlled race and did not panic when the two Bahamians and Kevin Borlee of Belgium seemed to be in control along the backstretch.
With about 250 metres to go, James, who is from the village of Gouyave, hit another gear and began to reel in the leaders one by one.
He blew out of the turn and pulled away to win quite comfortably in the end, erasing his own personal record of 44.36 seconds set in Zurich last year.
“I’m ecstatic; very proud of me and very proud for my country and everyone who’s affiliated to my country. Words can’t explain. There’s probably a huge street party going on right now,” James said.
Of the new national record, he said “it happened”. He listened to his coach Harvey Glance from the University of Alabama, and executed the strategy they had discussed.
“We’re very proud of the time and very proud of just winning a gold medal,” he added.
When asked about the margin of victory over the rest of the field he said: “I just went out there and compete and try to run my own race, don’t try to worry about the other guys and what they do. As long as I represent my country and everyone is proud, I’m happy with that.”
Still, it is a remarkable feat. James has accomplished in less than 20 years what others spend a lifetime trying to do. The impressive resume reads – Olympic champion, World champion, World Juniors champion, World Youth champion at both 200 and 400 metres; Pan Am Juniors champion at 200 and 400 metres and six-time CARIFTA gold medallist, four in the 400 metres.
He would not be drawn into questions of legacy, nor dominating the event at this point in his career.
“We’ll just wait and see. There are a lot of talented guys out there, young and upcoming guys, so I’m just going out there and competing each day.”
Saying this was just a stepping stone, he added: “There are a lot of the guys out there that are hungry too from our side of the Caribbean that can do well. We shouldn’t underestimate anybody at any time.”
Meanwhile, Gordon, who is from Tobago, said he knew he had the bronze medal over the last 50 or 60 metres when he saw The Bahamians and one of the Borlee twins – it was Jonathan to his left – fade.
“It was a wonderful feeling, a dream come true, a wonderful feeling to be an Olympic medallist,” he said, giving thanks to God, his family, coach Trevor Greene and several others.
Please see also Pages 18, 19 and 20 for full Olympics coverage.
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