The dream of Grenada medalling at the London Olympics has become a reality.
Grenada’s star athlete Kirani James created history on day ten of the Games by taking gold in the men’s 400 metres on Monday.
The 19-year old James who ran out of lane four completed the race in 43.94 seconds ahead of Luguelin Santos from the Dominican Republic and Lalonde Gordon from Trinidad and Tobago, and created history by shattering the American dominance in the 400 metres.
Pandemonium broke out at the Cuthbert Peters Park in Gouyave, St. John’s, the Parish from which James resides where public viewing of the race was made available by the Government of Grenada.
State Officials headed by the Governor General, Sir Carlyle Glean assembled on a soggy field to soak in the excitement of the race.
With great expectations that a gold medal was within reach, the nation united through national colours and the Grenada Flag as the Jaguar as he is affectionately called took to the track on a cold night in London.
Overwhelmed by the victory, the people immediately took to the streets of Gouyave in celebration, chanting and dancing away to local music that was provided by disc jockeys being carried on two trucks, with refreshment being provided by the Grenada Breweries Limited.
An elated Sir Carlyle said he had the choice of remaining at his residence to witness the race, but he decided that as a resident of Gouyave to be among the people “to feel the vibes.”
He said part of the celebration is getting the feelings, the drive and the energy from the supporters, and “here we are standing proud waving and shouting on our victory. So it has made us all proud and we can use this to inspire us.”
The Head of State described James as “a very smart athlete.”
He indicated that this is the youngster’s fastest time on the track.
Sir Carlyle spoke of James being the first recipient of a scholarship for the student who topped the Common Entrance in the Parish of St. John’s in 2002.
The Governor General said at that time he was the Manager of the local scholarship which saw James proceeding to the Grenada Boys Secondary School.
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who declared the following day to be a half holiday to celebrate the victory said it is an historic occasion not only for Grenada, but for the entire OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States).
Prime Minister Thomas believes that Grenada with its first Olympic Medal the sporting landscape would never be the same in Grenada.
“I really want to congratulate Kirani, his family, St. John’s, Grenada, we all are proud of him. He is an inspiration to all of us,” he said.
Tourism and Culture Minister Dr. George Vincent said the achievement of James is something which money cannot buy.
Dr. Vincent said the victory now puts Grenada on the map and every effort must be made to build upon it in the area of tourism.
A couple years ago James signed a contract with telecommunications provider, LIME.
Country Manager Angus Steel was among those celebrating in Gouyave on Monday.
With the National Flag draped around him, Steel told members of the media even though it was anticipated that James would bring home the gold it is hard to control the emotions.
He said he does not cry often, but was happy to do so and take the flag out of his pocket and have it draped over him.
Steel gave the assurance that through his leadership, LIME Grenada would ensure that the Gold Medal mean something for Grenada, not just from the contract, but to promote the country internationally.
“It is just a happy moment for LIME, and this is not just LIME Grenada, but LIME everywhere we operate. We would make this gold something for our people throughout the Caribbean,” he said.
Gouyave is often tarnished as having a bad image, but Dr. Vincent said, “it means we have a good name now and we have been having a good name for the last 20 years.”
James who is the World Junior Champion, World Youth Champion, NCAA Champion, and now Olympic Champion, first shot to prominence when he won the men’s 400 metres in Daegu last year.
His country Grenada became better known with the presentation of the Gold Medal on Tuesday.
The medal was presented by Grenadian Richard Peterkin, member of the International Olympic Committee.