Grenada has again managed to make a name on the world stage for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games.
Already a world champion, Kirani James became not only the island’s first ever winner of an Olympic title but a Gold medal at that when he won the Men’s 400 metres title with a performance that can best be described as nothing but “total dominance”.
The victory on Monday afternoon could not have come at a better time for the Spice Isle given recent events in the country.
What Kirani, the wonder boy from Gouyave, has done is to rally the nation together around a single event and to help us forget for the time being the unexplained and senseless acts of killing that occupied the minds of each and every Grenadian over the two weeks or so.
He has made each and every Grenadian around this tiny island, as well as thousands more living in places like Britain, Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and elsewhere feel once more proud to be called a Grenadian.
His achievement is on par or perhaps superseded the feats of Jennifer Hosten, the first and only Grenadian to win the Miss World title in a global competition, and the other notable first such as Dame Hilda Bynoe becoming the first female Head of State in the world.
This 19-year old teenager is simply up there with the best in terms of a notable and worthy achievement for Grenada.
It is fitting for the Government of Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas to have declared a Half Holiday Tuesday as a mark of respect and honour to someone who can now rightfully be referred to as King Kirani for his wonderful accomplishment.
Kirani has the potential to go on and take his body where no other 400 metre runner has ever been before but this showing at the London Olympics will always remain the sweetest victory with joy and happiness for all Grenadians.
Twenty years ago, anyone honest with him or herself would not have been that optimistic that in their lifetime they would have seen a Grenadian take an Olympic gold medal and stand on the podium for the playing of the national anthem.
These were reserved for athletes from countries like the United States, Australia, Canada, former Soviet bloc States in Eastern Europe, and Great Britain.
THE NEW TODAY would like to suggest that a few developments have been largely responsible for a change in fortunes for athletes from the previously unknown countries in Africa and the Caribbean to be able to compete on par and equal terms with their colleagues from the powerhouse countries.
The recent victories of athletes like Hasley Crawford of Trinidad and Tobago, Donald Quarrie of Jamaica and the Cuban great 400 and 800 metre runner, Albert Juantorena brought the belief to many in our parts of the world that they too can one day become an Olympic and world champion.
In addition, a more stringent drug testing policy by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ensured that the playing field became much more level and that no athlete started with a distinct and illegal advantage over the other.
The cheaters from the United States, Canada and Eastern Europe who previously dominated the tracks were eventually found out, exposed and disgraced for their deplorable actions.
The way was now clear for the likes of Usain Bolt, Merlene Otley, Bert Cameroon, Ato Boldon and Veronica Campbell-Brown to step forward and to showcase their undeniable talents on the world stage.
Our athletes were also able to benefit significantly from the more modern and greater training facilities that became available to them in the United States through scholarships attained to attend American universities.
Isn’t it ironic that in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games that the previously unbeaten, invincible and untouchable American sprinters have been conquered and with some ease by their rivals from the Caribbean?
London 2012 saw for the first time in over 40 years that an athlete from the U.S failed to either win or make it into the finals of the 400 metes in which Kirani won in the fastest time for the year of 43.94 secs.
His achievement was noticed by the world record holder in the 400 metres, the great Michael Johnson who identified the Grenadian jaguar as the one who is quite capable of breaking his world record of 43.18 secs.
This newspaper expects Government to come up with something tangible to honour Kirani whenever he lands at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA). The next few days should be used to come up with a fitting package.
In addition, each and every of the estimated 100, 000 Grenadians living on this little piece of rock should not frown if called upon to contribute $5 or $10 to a fund to be set up in the name of Kirani James as a fitting honour to this outstanding Grenadian athlete.
The only major disappointment is that our local Olympic body was not astute enough to explore all possibilities to ensure that at the least one of Kirani’s parents could have been in the stadium at London to watch their teenage son blaze the track when he brought home the honour and glory to the Spice Isle.
The IOC gives them a tidy sum for their annual budget and some of the funds should have been used to buy a ticket and provide accommodation for someone from the Kirani household to travel to London to witness the greatest sporting achievement in our nation’s short history.
Added, to the good news; Kirani’s Gold Medal was presented by Grenadian Richard Peterkin member of the International Olympic Committee, who is the son of the late Neville Peterkin. Kudos to Grenada
THE NEW TODAY extend the best possible congratulations to King Kirani for ensuring the finest hour for the entire country and its citizens in the past 50 years and more.