Monday night’s performance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games has prompted government to name the Chinese-rebuilt athletics stadium at Queen’s Park after the island’s premier athlete, Kirani James.
James, the winner of the island’s first Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic in the 400M race, struck silver this time around in the same event at Rio.
Several Grenadians including the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have been calling for the stadium to be named after the man dubbed “The Jaguar” ever since the People’s Republic of China handed over the Athletics and Football Stadia to Grenada.
Addressing members of the media at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing on Tuesday at the Ministerial Complex, Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele made the announcement of the name change but did not say when it was done and by whom.
“It is most fitting to say based on the most recent performance of Kirani James and recognition of the people’s desire, I think the time has come for us to give serious consideration and I know that my colleague Minister in Sports has started that process to name our Athletics Stadium after Kirani James,” Steele said.
He said the proper legislation has to be put into place first to effect the decision, which he said should be done soon.
“I would like to see it (done) as soon as possible, it could be at the next Cabinet meeting. Minister Bhola will present that. As to the formalities it would be dependent on the individual being able to be here for the naming and to arrange whatever festivities or so we need
to arrange and it would occur on that time, on that date. It’s dependent on us getting that legal part done and I think that’s minor and also the schedule of all to be here,” he told reporters.
The Health Minister took the opportunity to congratulate the entire Olympic team on representing Grenada proudly at the Rio Games.
He singled out the athletes by name – Kirani James, Bralon Taplin, Kanika Beckles, Corey Ollivierre, Oreoluwa Cherubin, Curt Felix and Lindon Victor – as being proud representatives of Grenada.
He also pointed to the level of decorum that James continues to portray internationally.
“I want to draw specific attention to our two 400 meter runners to say that we were proud of their performance, that Grenada a smallnation, a proud nation had two individuals in the 400 meter finals and not only did they excel and make us proud but I also want to take note of Kirani not just in his silver medal and to say that he continues to carry out his performances with a level of decorum, humility and sportsmanship that makes us proud. He is a true ambassador, a true representation of who we are and who we would like the world to see us as.
“…We want to thank him for maintaining that standard for us. All of our athletes maintain a level of decorum and sportsmanship throughout their performance and we are proud of all of them.
According to Minister Steele, the hope is that all the athletes will soon be in Grenada for a ceremony to give them the special recognition that they deserve.
“We also look forward …. very soon, to have here nationally, locally here in Grenada all of our Olympians here that we can celebrate and give them the recognition that is due all of them (for) participating and making us proud as a people,” he said.