Grenadian Sprinter – Kirani James Wins 400 Meter Race
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
August 06, 2012 (CUOPM)
Several Grenadians living in St. Kitts took to the streets of Basseterre, the St. Kitts capital, Monday afternoon minutes after Kirani James powered to gold in the men’s 400m to win Grenada’s first Olympic medal of any colour and break the Americans’ 28-year stranglehold on the one-lap event.
The mini-mototcade went through the streets of Basseterre as the Grenada nationals celebrated James, the 19-year-old reigning world champion, who dominated the field to win in 43.94sec, with Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, who is also 19, taking silver in 44.46sec while Trinidad and Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon took bronze.
AFP reported that the Grenadian made his move in the final 150m, coming off the bend with a clear lead and never looked like being caught.
He also became the first non-US athlete to dip under 44 seconds for the one-lap race.
When asked how it felt to win the Caribbean island nation’s first medal, he said:
“It’s a very proud feeling, very proud, just proud of everybody, what we’ve been through. I am just happy.
“It’s probably crazy at home right now. There’s probably a huge road party right now in the streets so I don’t think there’s any words that can describe the celebration,” he said.
James said his time showed he was “on the right track to do some good things” but that breaking the long-standing world record of 43.18sec held by US great Michael Johnson was not on his mind for now.
He dismissed suggestions that the absence of the reigning Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt of the United States, who pulled up injured in the first round in London, had made him the favourite.
“You have to respect all the eight guys in the race. They are very capable of doing great things so I just went out there and tried to run my own race.” Johnson set his world record in 1999 but he said after the race James had the potential to threaten his time.
“I am sure he will have a world record in his sights — my world record — and he could very well be the one to break it because he is a tremendous talent,” Johnson told BBC TV.
“And he is very young and he has many, many years to learn more about this event.”
The United States has been utterly dominant in the 400m on the Olympic stage since Victor Markin, representing the former Soviet Union, won in the boycott-blighted 1980 Moscow Olympics, where the US did not compete.
Last year James became the second youngest world gold medallist when he outdipped Merritt.
200-400m golds at the 2009 world youth championships, before being crowned world junior champion in the 400m a year later.
While Usain Bolt ran 45.35sec for the 400m as a 16-year-old, James timed 45.24 at the same age.