Tomorrow, April 8th will be a historic day in the Spice Isle as the National Cricket and Football stadium will be renamed after the island’s biggest sporting hero, 400M Olympic Gold Medalist, Kirani James.
The event will take place in front of several local, regional, and international athletes, and a wide cross section of the Grenadians who will be attending the inaugural Grenada Invitational track and field meet at the stadium.
The decision to rename the stadium after James came after calls were made by Grenadians from all walks of life who considered it a fitting gesture to recognise the track star for what he has done for the country in the sporting arena.
The ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell responded by passing in Parliament last Tuesday the Grenada Athletic ad Football Stadium Bill 2017 to put its seal on the deal.
In presenting the bill, Minister of Implementation, Emmalin Pierre referred to three quotes that came from James himself.
She told Parliament: “I want to use simply three quotations to remind us of who Kirani really is and what Grenada really means to him and if you would permit me Mr. Speaker, the first one says “…but whatever happens, I am just happy to be representing my country and putting Grenada on the map – that’s the most important thing”.
According to Minister Pierre, a former Minister of Youth and Sport, those words were uttered by James when he was asked about the outcome of one of his races.
She went on: “…When asked to comment on his victory, he (James) said, “I could not take Gold for granted, there were too many good runners out there but it’s a great feeling to be world champion. I am just happy to be here representing my country”.
The government minister also mentioned the words used by James when he was asked about the comparison between himself and the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt of Jamaica.
“Usain is special in his own way but I just want to be Kirani James from Grenada…”, she recalled Kirani saying.
Minister Pierre branded Kirani as “a true ambassador” of Grenada and one who “is epitome of what humility should look like”.
“Mr. Speaker, those three quotations really points out the humility in this young man, a young son of the soil but most importantly the pride, the joy, it is for him to represent his country and Mr. Speaker I believe that all of us consider Kirani to be a true ambassador, a true representative of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
“Mr. Speaker, what Kirani has done for Grenada in terms of recognition of this little island, I don’t think any tourism budget, any tourism marketing budget could have done it. He has represented us so well and so Mr. Speaker this government has looked for a fitting occasion, a fitting symbol; a symbol that can truly represent what this young man has done for Grenada.
According to Minister Pierre, the Grenada Invitational on Saturday was seen as the most fitting arena for such recognition to be bestowed on James.
Echoing the sentiments of Minister Pierre was Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, who said tomorrow would be a proud day for the people of St. John as the honour is most suitable for James.
“Grenada was already on the map, I think he made Grenada bigger on the map and well known throughout the international arena whether it’s sports and otherwise because even persons who (were) not keen sports enthusiasts were impressed by the humility and the patriotism of this young man and I think it behooves us to recognise him at this time while he is alive”, she said.
“…I could well imagine how proud the people of St. John’s, his parents and everybody would be but the fact is that Kirani is a son of all of us and so we need to say pretty much how (we) feel about this young man. I want to compliment and commend the ministry for this insight. I also want to compliment the people of Grenada who have been calling for it over and over…”, she added.
Member of Parliament for the constituency of St. George North-east, Tobias Clement who also spoke on the bill used the occasion to recognise the contribution made by the People’s Republic of China towards the construction of the Stadium.
The facility, he said is what is needed to help bring activities into the country.
Clement advocated the need for government to build more sporting structures on the island.
“I am saying if we get an opportunity to build more (stadia), build more. Maybe we should build now, a swimming facility for our swimmers and we will. So, I have to advocate for these things…Mr. Speaker, I say again, build it and they will come”, he told Parliament.
James is down to compete Saturday night on local soil for the first time in over a year in his pet race , the 400 metres.