James wins 400m gold
— sets new Caribbean record
LONDON, CMC – The outstanding Kirani James added Olympic gold to his fast-growing resume by racing to a personal best time to win the 400 meters in dominating fashion at the London Olympic Stadium here last night.
The 19-year-old clocked 43.94 seconds – a new national and Caribbean record – as he brushed aside his field to storm to the finish unchallenged.
In the process, James became Grenada’s first Olympic medalist and the first non-American to break the 44-second barrier in the history of the event.
The victory also added to James’s capture of the World title in Daegu last year and confirmed his status as the best quarter-miler on the planet, just weeks before his 20th birthday.
“I am very happy and very proud for my country and everyone that is associated with my country,” James beamed. “There is no word to describe the feeling right now.”
“I am very proud of the time and very happy to win the gold medal.”
In the field, which included five Caribbean runners, James got off to an impressive start and had things his own way on the backstretch to emerge as the early favourite. He entered the straight in front and accelerated over the last 50 metres to leave the field fighting for the other two medal placings.
In the end, James won by more than half of second as Luguelin Santos, the recently crowned World Junior champion of the Dominican Republic, took the silver medal in 44.46.
Surprise package Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago, who only qualified for the Olympics in June, took bronze in a personal best 44.52.
“[It was] a great race. I just tried to cover my first 200 metres, push on that and hold on for the ending,” said James, who hails from the small fishing village of Gouyave on the west coast of Grenada.
“It was great competition. A great group of guys … a great talented field.”
James illustrious career now includes winning the NCAA title twice, the World Youth 200/400 double in 2009 and World Junior 400m title in 2010.
Gordon, meanwhile, not expected to be a factor before the start of the Games, was also thrilled with his bronze medal capture.
“I believed in God, my coach and my training, which paid off tonight,” he said.
“I saw it coming, because I believe in my training.”
Veteran Chris Brown and Demetrius Pinder, both of the Bahamas, finished fourth and seventh in 44.79 and 44.98 seconds respectively.
James’s triumph set off jubilant scenes in Grenada, especially in Gouyave, where thousands gathered to watch the event on big screens here Monday evening.
There were similar gatherings in the town of Grenville on the east coast and the tourism belt of Grand Anse, as well as the National Stadium in the capital St George’s.
The country’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, who visited Gouyave, subsequently announced today as a half-holiday, with all government offices closed at 1 pm.
Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean, who is originally from Gouyave, also joined in the festivities in the area.
(Caption) Grenada’s Kirani James celebrates after winning the men’s 400m final at the London 2012 Olympic Games yesterday. REUTERS/DYLAN MARTINEZ